The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. Last year he had been tried once or twice. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis."Wrykyn will do him a world of good. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters. The door opened. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers. Mrs. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket." she muttered truculently through it. That's one comfort." This was mere stereo. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in." The aspersion stung Marjory. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much. "I bet he gets in before you. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays." Bob was in Donaldson's." she said. "Hullo. Bob disdained to reply." she said. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season." said Bob loftily. Mike was her special ally. . His third remark was of a practical nature. "sorry I'm late." "Considering there are eight old colours left. and the missing member of the family appeared. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail. He was fond of him in the abstract. I bet he does. "All right. who had shown signs of finishing it. "Anyhow. His figure was thin and wiry. you little beast. In face. but preferred him at a distance. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. Mike Jackson was tall for his age. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. if he sweats. he was curiously like his brother Joe. This year it should be all right. anyway. He might get his third. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. He was a sound bat. Marjory." he said." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. Jackson intervened. Marjory gave tongue again. Marjory. "Go on with your breakfast. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers." was his reference to the sponge incident. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field." "We aren't in the same house.

Mike put on his pads. Saunders. Joe's style. Gladys Maud Evangeline. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man." From Ella. the professional. The strength could only come with years. you're going to Wrykyn. "Mike. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. Mike Wryky. suddenly drew a long breath. like Mike." From Phyllis. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term. what's under that dish?" "Mike. sound article. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. assisted by the gardener's boy." began Mr. Jackson believed in private coaching. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so. In Bob he would turn out a good. with improvements. the eldest of the family. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on." groaned Bob. Mike was his special favourite. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year." shouted Marjory. So was father. was engaged in putting up the net. ages ago. you know. Mike looked round the table. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. "Mike." "Is he. and every spring since Joe. somebody. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. Whereat Gladys Maud. Mr." "Oh. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term. in six-eight time. but the style was there already. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. There was nothing the matter with Bob. "I say. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama." she said. "Good. aged three. as follows: "Mike Wryky."I say. But he was not a cricket genius." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast. obliged with a solo of her own composition. you're going to Wrykyn next term. Saunders. "Mike." he said. put a green baize cloth over that kid. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. It was a great moment. "All the boys were there.

miss. Master Mike? Play. and nineteen perhaps. Saunders. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting." said the professional. "Well. perhaps. miss." Marjory sat down again beside the net. The whole thing is. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. It's quite likely that it will. It's all there. it's this way. isn't he? He's better than Bob." "Yes. he was playing more strongly than usual. and that's where the runs come in. miss. but I meant next term. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there." "But Mike's jolly strong. miss. I don't. in a manner of speaking. didn't he."School team." "No." Saunders looked a little doubtful. What are they like?" "Well. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. There's a young gentleman. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. You know these school professionals. Going to a public school. I was only saying don't count on it. To-day. you see. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. Don't you think he might. Joe's got. it was all there. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. every bit. "Next term!" he said. Still." As Saunders had said. too. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. He's got as much style as Mr. That's what he'll be playing for. Saunders? He's awfully good. and watched more hopefully. we'll hope for the best. as she returned the ball. a sort of pageant. I'm not saying it mightn't be. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen." "Ah. and it stands to reason they're stronger. Ready. you see. "He hit that hard enough. miss. especially at . only all I say is don't count on it. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. miss. It would be a record if he did. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. with Master Mike. Saunders?" she asked.

Bob. On the other hand. but then Bob only recognised one house. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings.the beginning of the summer term. however. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. nor profound. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. He wore a bowler hat. was to board the train at East Wobsley. though evidently some years older. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. his magazines. in his opinion. and he was nothing special.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. He had a sharp face. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. the train drew up at a small station. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. and carried a small . and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. Bob. is no great hardship. by all accounts. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. He was alone in the carriage. Phyllis. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. was on the verge of the first eleven. Mothers. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. According to Bob they had no earthly. While he was engaged on these reflections. and Mrs. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. The air was full of last messages. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. in time to come down with a handsome tip). The train gathered speed. And as Marjory. frankly bored with the whole business. Donaldson's. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. Mr. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. Gladys Maud cried. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. there was Bob. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. and now the thing had come about. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. He was excited. Meanwhile. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. It might be true that some day he would play for England. the village idiot. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. with rather a prominent nose. The latter were not numerous. smiling vaguely. and his reflections. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself.

Besides. he seemed to carry enough side for three. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. The fellow had forgotten his bag. sir. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag. and wondered if he wanted anything. He realised in an instant what had happened." "Thank you. instead." said Mike to himself. but. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform.portmanteau. sir. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment. thought Mike. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. sir. He was only travelling a short way. Anyhow. And here. and at the next stop got out. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. The trainwas already moving quite fast. but. let him ask for it. . "Porter. the bag had better be returned at once. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him. I regret to say. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window. He opened the door. and took the seat opposite to Mike. after all. lying snugly in the rack. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. If he wanted a magazine. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. That explained his magazineless condition. He did not like the looks of him particularly. which is always fatal. "Good business." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. and finally sat down. Judging by appearances. He seemed about to make some remark. you know. Mike acted from the best motives. got up and looked through the open window. The other made no overtures. then. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say." "Because. stared at Mike again. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property." "Here you are." "No chance of that." The youth drew his head and shoulders in.

dash it. "Have you changed carriages. escaped with a flesh wound. you little beast. looking out of the window.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. It hit a porter. "Hullo. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow." he shouted. "I'm awfully sorry." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders. "I thought you'd got out there for good. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity. and the other jumped into the carriage. The head was surmounted by a bowler. who happened to be in the line of fire." said Mike. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it. though not intentionally so. "I chucked it out." said Mike. "Don't _grin_. "Then. I say. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters." explained Mike. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway. . This was one of them." The situation was becoming difficult. which did not occur for a good many miles. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny." The guard blew his whistle. and said as much. What you want is a frightful kicking. "There's nothing to laugh at." "It wasn't that. or what?" "No." Against his will. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations." said Mike hurriedly. Then it ceased abruptly." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform.(Porter Robinson. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window. and. "The fact is. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. Mike grinned at the recollection." said the stranger.

I should rot about like anything. "I swear. it's a bit thick. He realised that school politics were being talked. "Oh. He's in your house. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. "He and Wain never get on very well." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. Good cricketer and footballer." "I mean. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term." "Oh. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's." "Naturally. I say." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. never mind." "Frightful. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. "It must be pretty rotten for him. what happened was this." "Frightful nuisance. "Hullo. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. It's just the sort . They were discussing Wain's now. if I were in Wyatt's place. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard." agreed Firby-Smith. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. "I've made rather an ass of myself. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. are you in Wain's?" he said. it's all right. all the same. holidays as well as term. I mean. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required. Bob. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. and it's at a station miles back. only he hadn't really." said Mike. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. "I say. They'll send it on by the next train. By the way." said Bob. He took up his magazine again." "Oh. Mike. though not aggressive." "You're a bit of a rotter. thinking he'd got out. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank. rather lucky you've met. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. and yet they have to be together. Gazeka?" "Yes. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves. there you are. and all that sort of thing. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt. listening the while. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all."Hullo. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term. Lots of things in it I wanted. He grinned again. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. then it's certain to be all right. It's bound to turn up some time. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past." said Bob.

" And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. I think you'd better nip up to the school. Mike. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. and it's the only Christian train they run. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. Go in which direction he would. here we are. Plainly a Wrykynian. and lost his way. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians. all more or less straight. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. has no perplexities. and. "Heaps of them must come by this line. Hullo. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea. Mike started out boldly. But here they were alone. and so on. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. See you later. and tell you all about things.of life he'll hate most. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. Probably Wain will want to see you. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. and a straw hat with a coloured band. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train." Bob looked at Mike. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right." Mike looked out of the window." he concluded airily. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. Crossing the square was a short. Go straight on. . "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do." he said. They'll send your luggage on later. So long. on alighting. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob." he said. Mike made for him. It was Wrykyn at last. and looked about him. with a happy inspiration. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. which is your dorm. it is simplicity itself. a blue blazer. leaving him to find his way for himself. To the man who knows. Silly idea. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers.

"It was only against kids. There's no close season for me. "Pity. He's in Donaldson's. you know. this is fame. "How many?" "Seven altogether. then?" asked Mike." "I know." said Mike. Only a private school. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. are you Wyatt. How did you know my name." said Mike." said the stranger. There was something singularly cool and genial about them. He felt that they saw the humour in things. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train. "You look rather lost. "Hullo. "That's pretty useful. please." said Mike awkwardly." said the other. you're going to the school. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing. square-jawed face. So you're the newest make of Jackson. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley." added Mike modestly. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. He had a pleasant." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog." "Oh. And . A stout fellow. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's." "Are you there." said Mike." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson." he said. You can't quite raise a team. you know. latest model. You know. Any more centuries?" "Yes. shuffling. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective."Can you tell me the way to the school. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers. too?" "I played a bit at my last school." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time. it was really awfully rotten bowling. "Oh.

"My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. a beautiful piece of turf." said Mike. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. He felt out of the picture. He was glad that he had met Wyatt." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. answering for himself. everything. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. the grounds. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome. Look here. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much. "I say." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's. "That's Wain's. That's his. too." said Wyatt. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground. but that's his misfortune. down in the Easter holidays. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. Everything looked so big--the buildings. though no games were played on it." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. a shade too narrow . walking along the path that divided the two terraces. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps. At Emsworth." said Mike. thanks awfully." he said. I was just going to have some tea. They skirted the cricket field. it's jolly big. where. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. At the top of the hill came the school. cut out of the hill." "Oh." "Yes. and took in the size of his new home." said Mike cautiously. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school." said Wyatt. "He's all right. I know. I believe. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there. You come along. We all have our troubles. He's head of Wain's." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. Mike followed his finger. And my pater always has a pro. The next terrace was the biggest of all. which gave me a bit of an advantage. We shall want some batting in the house this term. Let's go in here." "All the same.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

but Bob did not know this. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. Mike arrived. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. "Sugar?" asked Bob." "Cake?" "Thanks. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike." .CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. all right. and his conscience smote him." said Mike. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules. and his batting was undeniable. it is apt to throw us off our balance. There is nothing more heady than success. Mike had skipped these years. and if it comes before we are prepared for it. Silence. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. when they met. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. He only knew that he had received a letter from home. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. "Well. "Thanks. As a rule. "How many lumps?" "Two. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. Bob was changing into his cricket things. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. It did not make him conceited. please. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. to give him good advice. at school. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. He was older than the average new boy. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there." said Mike. Beyond asking him occasionally. if only for one performance. all right"). "Oh. "Oh.

you've got on so well at cricket. "Yes?" said Mike coldly. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake. "It's only this." said Bob. thanks. I'm not saying a word against you so far. and spoke crushingly. Jackson. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading." said Bob. "Oh. I'm not saying anything against you so far." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. You know." "What do you mean?" said Mike. Only you see what I mean. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner." said Mike cautiously. Bob pulled himself together. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon." said Bob. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam. "You know. "What!" said Mike. while Bob." said Mike. outraged. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good. "You've been all right up to now. of course." Mike's feelings were too deep for words. I should take care what ." added Bob. in the third and so on. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. if you don't watch yourself." he said at length. "Like him?" "Yes." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother. "Look here.Silence." he said. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal. "I can look after myself all right." he said. What I mean to say is. Mike. "I shouldn't--I mean. "He needn't trouble. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. filled his cup. Look after him! Him!! M. making things worse. "Yes. "He said he'd look after you.

having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. I'm going over to the nets. he's an awfully good chap." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude. He doesn't care a hang what he does. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. He's never been dropped on yet. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. Don't make a frightful row in the house. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. "All right. You'd better be going and changing. of course. Thing is. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. Stick on here a bit." "What do you mean?" "Well. spoke again. That youth." he said. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. He's that sort of chap. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you. But don't you go doing it. so said nothing. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again." Mike followed him in silence to his study. I've got to be off myself. all spectacles and front teeth. young man. young're doing with Wyatt. (Mike disliked being called "young man. I wanted to see you.") "Come up to my study. Don't cheek your . "What rot!" said Mike. He felt very sore against Bob. but still----" "Still what?" "Well." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. because he's leaving at the end of the term. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after. though. "I've been hearing all about you. A good innings at the third eleven net. But don't let him drag you into anything. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. met Mike at the door of Wain's. if you want any more tea. it doesn't matter much for him. I mean. "Ah." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. Not that he would try to. "I promised I would. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him." Mike shuffled. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition." said the Gazeka. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody.

He opened his eyes. "Hullo. as I'm morally certain to be some day. but it was not so easy to do it. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. Specially as there's a good moon. You'll find that useful when the time comes. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. He got out of bed and went to the window. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. That's all. he walked out of the room. I shall be deadly. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. increased." said Wyatt. or night rather. you can't.elders and betters. of wanting to do something actively illegal." said Wyatt." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised." "I say. "No. Wash." he said." "Are you going out?" "I am. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden." And Wyatt. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. "Is that you. you stay where you are. by a slight sound. Mustn't miss a chance like this. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself. Cut along. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. with or without an air-pistol. The room was almost light. and hitting it into space every time. but he had never felt wider awake. Anyhow. but with rage and all that sort of thing. too. but he . Like Eric. not with shame and remorse. he burned. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. wriggled out. "When I'm caught. and up to his dormitory to change. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. just the sort of night on which. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. He would have given much to be with him. Overcoming this feeling. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. He sat up in bed. and the second time he gave up the struggle. if he had been at home. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. So long. would just have suited Mike's mood. It was a lovely night.

"_ Mike stood and drained it in. turning up the incandescent light. one leading into Wain's part of the house. He took some more biscuits. feeling a new man. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. wound the machine up. He was not alarmed. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . after a few preliminary chords. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. Wain's. perhaps. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. very loud and nasal. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. The soda-water may have got into his head. the other into the boys' section. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird.. After which. A voice accompanied the banging. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. There were the remains of supper on the table. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. he examined the room. _". Then a beautiful. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. As it swished into the glass. then. It was quite late now. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. To make himself more secure he locked that door. The next moment. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. All thought of risk left him. Field actually did so. Everybody would be in bed. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. Down the stairs. Mr. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone.realised that he was on parole. he proceeded to look about him. He had promised not to leave the house. as indeed he was. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it.. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat." And. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. along the passage to the left. and an apple. And this was where the trouble began. Mr. This was Life. It would be quite safe. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. and set it going. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. feeling that he was doing himself well. and there was an end of it. Food. He finished it. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. Field). Mike recognised it as Mr. consoling thought came to him.

he opened the window. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. and dashed down the dark stairs. and found that they were after him. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity." The answer was simple. It had occurred to him. He stopped the gramophone. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. and he'd locked one door. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. just in time. And at the same time. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. The main point. He jumped out of bed. on the other hand. Two minutes later he was in bed. and reflected. the most exciting episode of his life. "would A. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. "He'd clear out. and warn Wyatt. suspicion would be diverted. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. and get caught. If. So long as the frontal attack was kept up." thought Mike. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. "Now what. though it was not likely. J. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. but he must not overdo the thing. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. It was open now. the kernel of the whole thing. breathless. His position was impregnable. This was good. Wain from coming to the dormitory. and he sat up." pondered Mike. Wain. was that he must get into the garden somehow. The handle-rattling was resumed. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force.need to be alarmed. and could get away by the other. Evidently his . Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. that if Mr. Then he began to be equal to it. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. he must keep Mr. to date. He lay there. on entering the room.

Mr. looking out. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. sir. Wain was standing at the window. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. sir. His hair was ruffled. I thought I heard a noise. in spite of his anxiety." "A noise?" "Please. and. of course not. sir." If it was Mr. Wain was a tall. thin man. Mike. drew inspiration from it. and went in. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. He spun round at the knock. All this is very unsettling. sir. could barely check a laugh. "Of course not." . sir. sir. Mr. He knocked at the door. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure.retreat had been made just in time. "So I came down." said Mike. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. Wain. Wain continued to stare. Mr. He wore spectacles." said Mr. please. Wain hurriedly. "I think there must have been a burglar in here. He looked like some weird bird. "Of course not. catching sight of the gramophone. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. He looked about him. "Please." said Mike." "Looks like it. "Thought I heard a noise. please." "I found the window open. sir." "A noise?" "A row. Jackson. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. sir!" said Mike. through which he peered owlishly at Mike. a row. "_Me_." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. I don't know why I asked.

_"Et tu. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked. Wain. His knees were covered with mould." cried Mike. then tore for the regions at the back. as who should say." Mr. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. Wain. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. such an ass. Jackson." Mr. "He might be still in the house." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. eliciting sharp howls of pain. sir." said Wyatt." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. He ran to the window. ruminatively. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. He felt that all was well. sir. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere. I know. "Not likely. An inarticulate protest from Mr. sir. sir. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. "You young ass. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right." said Mr."He's probably in the garden." "Yes. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. Wain looked at the shrubbery. I mean. The moon had gone behind the clouds. Mike stopped. There might be a bit of a row on his return. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes." "Perhaps you are right. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house. "Who on earth's that?" it said. "Is that you. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. you might . sir. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly.

it was rather a rotten thing to do. It is exceedingly impertinent of you. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window." "Please. come in. "But how the dickens did he hear you." said Mr. "It's miles from his bedroom." "Yes. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold. I will not have it. sir. so excited. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm." "It wasn't that. sir." " least have the sense to walk quietly. All right. I'll get back. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared. You must tread like a policeman. "I never saw such a man. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please. You will do me two hundred lines. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt." Mike clambered through the window. Latin and English. and I'll go back to the dining-room. sir." Mr. "I couldn't find him. He must have got out of the garden. "You have no business to be excited. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird. Wain. but I turned on the gramophone. till Wain came along. you might come down too." said Mike. standing outside with his hands on the sill. "You're a genius. I will not have it. but you don't understand." he said. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. Exceedingly so. It was very wrong of you to search for him.' Ripping it was. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course. Or. Well. You have been seriously injured." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. "Undoubtedly so." And Mike rapidly explained the situation." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone. Wain was still in the dining-room. you see. Have you no sense. You dash along then. Come in at once. I suppose. Exceedingly so" . if you like. The thing was." "That's not a bad idea.

Jackson? James." he said. You hear me. hanging over space. of Donaldson's. "Under no circumstances whatever. It is possible that you mistook my meaning. "Stay where you are. Mr. watching some one else work.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. He yawned before he spoke. "I was under the impression. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. Wain "father" in private. The question stung Mr. "only he has got away. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. . CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said." They made it so. and have a look round." "Shall I go out into the garden. the other outside. He called Mr. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. I will not have boys running about my garden at night. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. one leg in the room. getting tea ready. sir. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully." said Mike. Inordinately so. James. In these circumstances. And. Wain into active eruption once more. James--and you. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory. preparatory to going on the river. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. I must be obeyed instantly." he said excitedly. He loved to sit in this attitude. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. "I thought I heard a noise. It is preposterous. "sir" in public. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. you will both be punished with extreme severity. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first." "But the burglar. "We might catch him. Both of you go to bed immediately." said Mike. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. At least Trevor was in the study." he said. you understand me? To bed at once. sir?" said Wyatt. Clowes was on the window-sill. sir.

" said Clowes. 'Good chap. Trevor.' I say. slicing bread. 'One Clowes is luxury. "One for the pot." "Silly ass. But when it comes to deep thought." "My lad. packing . I mean. 'and he's all right. Did I want them spread about the school? No.'" "You were right there. which he was not. Aged fifteen. "I said. I'm thinking of Life. Trevor?" "One. Have you got any brothers. If you'd been a silly ass. That's a thing you couldn't do. Tigellinus." "Too busy." "My mind at the moment. Cheek's what I call it. Hence." "Marlborough." "That shows your sense. I said. I often say to people. Trevor was shorter." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded." said Clowes. Trevor. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun. you'd have let your people send him here." said Trevor. and very much in earnest over all that he did. I did not. where is he? Among the also-rans. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. I say. Not a bad chap in his way. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. two excess. laddie. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school. but can't think of Life." "I withdraw what I said about your sense. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work." said Trevor. I suppose it's fun to him. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. "All right. I should think. Consider it unsaid. Clowes was tall. Couple of years younger than me. and looked sad. Where is he? Your brother." breathed Trevor." "You aren't doing a stroke. as our old pal Nero used to remark. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn. Better order it to-day. "Come and help. I lodged a protest.' At least. we shall want some more jam to-morrow. you slacker.' That's what I say. we see my brother two terms ago. Like the heroes of the school stories. I have a brother myself." "See it done. My people wanted to send him here.

" "What's up? Does he rag?" . take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. and he's very decent. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. he is." "Why?" "Well. however. You say Jackson's all right. loved by all who know me. We were on the subject of brothers at school. I've talked to him several times at the nets. Now. fawned upon by masters. At present. considering his cricket. who looks on him as no sportsman. which he might easily do. so far. as I said. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. with an unstained reputation. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded. For once in your life you've touched the spot. courted by boys. but. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. come on. naturally. he returned to his subject. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. Bob seems to be trying the first way." "That's just it." said Trevor. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct. it's the limit. "Mr. the term's only just started. It's the masters you've got to consider.up his little box. What's wrong with him? Besides. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here. And here am I at Wrykyn. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot." "Well?" "Look here. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. revered by all who don't." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. It's all right. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. so he broods over him like a policeman. I suppose." "Jackson's all right. and tooling off to Rugby. It may be all right after they're left. It's just the one used by chaps' people. But the term's hardly started yet. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. My heart bleeds for Bob. In other words." he said." "What a rotten argument. which is what I should do myself. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod. At the end of that period." "Young Jackson seems all right. perhaps. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. too. If I frown----" "Oh. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. but while they're there.

anyhow. Let's stagger out. Better leave him alone. . and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him. Besides." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school." "He never seems to be in extra. It's nothing to do with us. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. Still. One always sees him about on half-holidays. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. He's head of Wain's. and does them. and which is bound to make rows between them. unless he leaves before it comes off. too." "I don't know. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. Well. You'd only make him do the policeman business. All I say is that he's just the sort who does. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging." Trevor looked disturbed. however." "The Gazeka is a fool." "All front teeth and side. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. every other night. But what's the good of worrying. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. he's on the spot. that he'll be roped into it too. For instance. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. The odds are. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that." "I know. which he hasn't time for. walking back to the house. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days. and. tell the Gazeka. if Jackson's so thick with him. And if you're caught at that game. He's asking for trouble. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. it's the boot every time." "Yes." "That's always the way with that sort of chap." "If you must tell anybody. I shouldn't think so.

" "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him." said Bob." "Don't blame him. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper. Why?" "It's this way. sitting up." "Oh. It's his last. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. I think. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. bewildered. Rather rot." "I should. I hear. W. I say. being in the same house. That's his look out. He'd have more chance." "Nor do I. Only he is rather mucking about this term. though. oiling a bat. I spoke to him about it." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too." "Not a bit. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. I think I'll speak to him again." "I've done that." . that I know of. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. then." he said." "I know. "That reminds me. I forgot to get the evening paper. you did? That's all right. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking. Are you busy?" "No. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's. I meant the one here. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. Well?" "About your brother." "Oh. "I say. all right. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor." "Oh. J. but. "My brother." "I should get blamed. you know. Smith said he'd speak to him." "That's all right then. If Wyatt likes to risk it. "look here. Bob. by Jove. I didn't mean that brother.He found him in his study.

"I should think you're bound to get your first all right. having finished his oiling and washed his hands. "I thought I heard it go. and Bob.W. Pretty good for his first term. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. The next moment the thing has begun. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. don't you?" "Yes. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. and you are standing in a shower-bath. . You have a pro. for years. when suddenly there is a hush. to coach you in the holidays." said Trevor. at home. it's not been chucked away. I suppose he'll get his first next year. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence. 18. Nearly all the first are leaving. Bob. though.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days." He went back to his study. I simply couldn't do a thing then. It is just the same with a row. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general.' There's a subtle difference. W." "Sort of infant prodigy. Some trivial episode occurs. and 51." "Hope so. Henfrey'll be captain. anyhow. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. I asked him what he thought of me. and he said. and there falls on you from space one big drop. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term. But Mike fairly lived inside the net. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day." "Better than at the beginning of the term.s. he thinks. But my last three innings have been 33 not out." "Saunders. the pro. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. started on his Thucydides. and had beaten them. I was away a lot. even. when they meet. I didn't go to him much this last time. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. Better than J. Mr. I expect. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful." "Yes." "Well. You were rather in form. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. And.

only I don't quite know where he comes in. Still." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. I believe he's rather sick about it. There's a dinner after the matches on O. Rot I call it. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. because I didn't get an innings. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. "Your loving son. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. and Spence). So I didn't go in. so we stop from lunch to four. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. together with the school choir. I didn't do much. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. songs. He's Wain's step-son.--Thanks awfully for your letter. Bob played for the first. Low down. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G. I wasn't in it.--Half-a-crown would do. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. The thing had happened after this fashion. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. and I got bowled).'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill.P. only I'd rather it was five bob. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on." And. lasted. as a . "MIKE. and half the chaps are acting.S. and 30 in a form match. so I played. Rather rot. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. Jones. I hope you are quite well. He was run out after he'd got ten.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches. On the Monday they were public property. and there was rather a row. only they bar one another) told me about it. on the back of the envelope. because they won the toss and made 215. B. The banquet. Love to everybody.W. but didn't do much.--I say. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. lengthened by speeches. "P. could you? I'm rather broke. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. day. I may get another shot.S.W.W. "P. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. They stop the cricket on O. Rather decent. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. I had to dive for it. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. the Surrey man. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two. He was in it all right.

dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. Risks which before supper seemed great. and that the criticisms were. for the honour of the school. When. . in the midst of their festivities. Wrykyn. show a tendency to dwindle. As a rule. accordingly. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. the town. About midway between Wrykyn. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps.rule. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. till about ten o'clock. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. Words can be overlooked. and. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. brainless. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. rural type of hooliganism. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. and the authorities. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. This was the official programme. and Wrykyn. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. The school was always anxious for a row. which they used. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. and turn in. one's views are apt to alter. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. and had been the custom for generations back. But there were others. essentially candid and personal. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. Possibly. In the present crisis." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. as usual. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. But tomatoes cannot. the town. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. it was not considered worth it. the school. all might yet have been peace. as a rule. and then race back to their houses. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. therefore. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. It was the custom. and hit Wyatt on the right ear. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths.

it was no time for science. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town." he said. By the side of the road at this point was a green. Wyatt. and stampeded as one man. He very seldom lost his temper. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. They were smarting under a sense of injury. of whose presence you had no idea. for they suddenly gave the fight up. "Now then. it looked unspeakable at night. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. while some dear friend of his. But. but two remained. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. and the procession had halted on the brink. It struck Wyatt. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. . panting. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato." it said. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. and then kicks your shins. A move was made towards the pond. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. Gloomy in the daytime. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest." he said quietly. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. now in a solid mass. It raged up and down the road without a pause. Barely a dozen remained. except the prisoners. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. The science was on the side of the school. depressed looking pond.There was a moment of suspense. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. "Let's chuck 'em in there. at any rate at first. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. when a new voice made itself heard. now splitting up into little groups. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. The leaders were beyond recall.

" "Stop!" From Mr. you chaps. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. and vanished." "Ho!" said the policeman. Just as the second prisoner was being launched." "I don't want none of your lip." said Wyatt. Mr. and seized the captive by the arm. Butt. Don't swallow more than you can help." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. but you ought to know where to stop. "Make 'em leave hold of us. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. scrambled out. or you'll go typhoid. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman. I expect there are leeches and things there. "You run along on your beat. He ploughed his way to the bank. The prisoner did. understanding but dimly. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond." "It's anything but a lark. Carry on. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. it's an execution. and a splash compared with which . whoever you are. Constable Butt. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. You can't do anything here. a lark's a lark." said Wyatt. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. Butt. "All right. but if out quick they may not get on to you. a cheer from the launching party." said Mr." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. This isn't a lark. young gentleman. sprang forward. The policeman realised his peril too late. He'll have churned up a bit." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land. a yell from the policeman. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke. Butt. with a change in his voice. and suspecting impudence by instinct. A howl from the townee."What's all this?" "It's all right. "Ho. "This is quite a private matter. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. That's what we are. are they? Come now. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner. going in second. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. you chaps.

it has become world-famous." said Wyatt. _Plop_!" said Mr." "Threw you in!" "Yes. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. sir. and all was over. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. Butt. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. they did. (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. and throws away the match. "Really. we find Mr. The imagination of the force is proverbial. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. Mr. and. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. sheets of fire are racing over the country. Mr. before any one can realise what is happening. and "with them. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. with a certain sad relish. Butt fierce and revengeful. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. really!" said the headmaster. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. Yes. It was no occasion for light apologies. with others. Butt gave free rein to it. but in the present case. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match." as they say in the courts of law. Following the chain of events. and the interested neighbours are following their example. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. Police Constable Alfred Butt. "Threw me in.the first had been as nothing. sir. Wyatt. having prudently changed his clothes. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. I shall--certainly----" . sir. "Do you know. went to look for the thrower. The tomato hit Wyatt. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. Butt. but both comparisons may stand. calling upon the headmaster. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes.

'a frakkus. 'Why. sir. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood. Lots of them all gathered together. sir. They actually seized you. sir! Mrs. Wringin' wet. constable. Mr. "I was on my beat.' I says." "I have never heard of such a thing.' I says. and fighting. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. Butt promptly. sir." said Mr. ''Allo. I can hardly believe that it is possible." concluded Mr. "I _was_ wet." "H'm--Well. Butt started it again." "Yes. too." "Yes. sir.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. Good-night." The headmaster's frown deepened. I wonder?' I says." "Yes--Thank you. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying. Butt.' And. She says to me. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here. "How many boys were there?" he asked. sir. sir. again with the confidential air. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot. with the air of one confiding a secret. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_. sir!" said the policeman. Had he been a motorist. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. I will look into the matter at once. beginning to suspect something. "Couple of 'undred." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist. 'Wot's this all about. and I couldn't see not to say properly." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely." he added." "Good-night. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. sir. As it was. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten. sir. sir. right from the beginning. according to discretion. He . They shall be punished.' And. and I thought I heard a disturbance. I says to myself.

and in private at that. "There'll be a frightful row about it. right in it after all. . Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. and not of only one or two individuals. was culpable. It happened that. I say!" Everybody was saying it. expend itself in words. When condensed. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness.. Only two days before the O.. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. As it was. everybody's comment on the situation came to that.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way. The school was thunderstruck. and finally become a mere vague memory. And here they were. always ready to stop work. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. which at one time had looked like being fatal. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. The blow had fallen. as a whole. become public property.. A public school has no Hyde Park. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term. about a week before the pond episode. but for one malcontent. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. The pond affair had. It must always. It could not understand it." they had said. or nearly always. it is certain--that. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. of course. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. he got the impression that the school. and the school. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. he would have asked for their names. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. They were not malicious. astounded "Here. There is every probability--in fact. It was one vast. which was followed throughout the kingdom. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. though not always in those words. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness.W. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life. blank. however. and crushed guilty and innocent alike.

and probably considered himself. Wyatt acted on him like some drug. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. that it was all rot. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter. I'm not going to. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic." . and. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. and that it was a beastly shame. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons. It requires genius to sway a school. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. a day-boy. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality." "You're rotting. a daring sort of person. and he was full of it. "Well. on the whole. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority. intense respect for order and authority. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school." Neville-Smith stopped and stared. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. and scenting sarcasm. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. He said it was a swindle." "Why not?" said Wyatt. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. Before he came to Wyatt. Wyatt was unmoved. Leaders of men are rare. even though he may not approve of it. as a whole. their ironbound conservatism." "All right. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words.The malcontent was Wyatt. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. He added that something ought to be done about it.

ragging barred. They couldn't sack the whole school. Groups kept forming in corners apart. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority." said Neville-Smith after a pause." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night. I believe. they couldn't do much. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . We should be forty or fifty strong to start with." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. "It would be a bit of a rag." "Not bad. I say. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow." "I suppose so."No." "I could get quite a lot. nor could they! I say!" They walked on. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses." "I say." Another pause." "That would be a start." said Wyatt. Wyatt whistling. but. But only because I shall be the only one to do it. "I say. I should be glad of a little company." "All right. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's. wouldn't it be?" "Yes. Are you just going to cut off. and let you know. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith. If the whole school took Friday off. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl. "Do. excited way." "By Jove." "You'll get sacked. what a score.

of the Lower Fifth. "It's jolly rum. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school. but it had its leaven of day-boys. I should have got up an hour later. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms. "I say. Some one might have let us know. to Brown. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters. though unable to interfere. however. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery." "So do I. came on bicycles. and at three minutes to nine. The form-rooms. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment." . it's just striking. like the gravel. rather to the scandal of the authorities. saying it was on again all right. The majority of these lived in the town. and walked to school." said Willoughby. who.'s day row. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. what a swindle if he did. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late. trying to get in in time to answer their names. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement. Punctuality is the politeness of princes. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. as a general rule. whose homes were farther away. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. were empty." "So should I. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. I say. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. I can't make it out. Why.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock." said Brown.W." "Somebody would have turned up by now. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part. A few. the only other occupant of the form-room.

Seeing the obvious void. sir. sir. sir." "This is extraordinary. He was not a house-master. Spence told himself. here _is_ somebody. Spence as he entered." "None of the boarders?" "No. Several voices hailed Mr. "Willoughby. Not a single one. Spence seated himself on the table. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. and a few more were standing. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been." Mr. there is a holiday to-day. sir. and the notice was not brought to me. after all." "I've heard nothing about it." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned. He walked briskly into the room. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. sir. sir. Mr." It was the master of the Lower Fifth. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. A brisk conversation was going on." he said. Brown."Hullo. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. Spence pondered. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. he stopped in his stride." Mr. Spence?" Mr. ." "We were just wondering. And they were all very puzzled. we don't know. Spence. The usual lot who come on bikes. and looked puzzled." "Yes. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. We were just wondering. as was his habit. Perhaps. "Well. if the holiday had been put on again. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. "Hullo. as he walked to the Common Room. as you say. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries." "Have you seen nobody?" "No. Spence. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are. sir.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise." said Wyatt. with comments and elaborations. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. It was not a market-day. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. In the early afternoon they rested. net practice was just coming to an end when. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. . and as evening began to fall. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. And the army lunched sumptuously. singing the school song. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. as generalissimo of the expedition. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. * * * * * At the school. They descended on the place like an army of locusts. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. the march home was started. And two days later." the leading inn of the town. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. jam. fortunately. it melted away little by little." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration.his paper. and he always ended with the words. He always told that as his best story. At the school gates only a handful were left. Private citizens rallied round with bread. faintly. At Worfield the expedition lunched." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. "Anything I can do for you. As the army drew near to the school. each house claiming its representatives. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. Other inns were called upon for help. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. please. and apples. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. In addition. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. They looked weary but cheerful. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. "Yes. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. Wyatt. there was wonderfully little damage done to property.

Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. met Wyatt at the gate. were openly exulting. Now for it. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics." he said. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. What do you mean? Why?" "Well. and gazed at him. "this is all right. marvelling. "I say." Wyatt was damping. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town." said Wyatt. isn't it! He's funked it. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. Finds the job too big to tackle. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features." he chuckled. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. But it came all . "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have. thought the school. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance. I thought he would. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. they didn't send in the bill right away. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. indeed. This was the announcement. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them. There was. The school streamed downstairs. The less astute of the picnickers." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. "Hullo. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice. speechless. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. It hasn't started yet." He then gave the nod of dismissal. walking back to Donaldson's. "My dear chap.Bob Jackson.

" . who was walking a little stiffly. as they went back to the house. I never saw such a man. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates." Wyatt was right. It was a comprehensive document. Buns were forgotten. and post them outside the school shop." said Clowes. as he read the huge scroll. "What!" "Yes. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off. "I don't know what you call getting off." "Glad you think it funny." said Mike ruefully." "Sting?" "Should think it did." "Do you think he's going to do something. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. They surged round it." Wyatt roared with laughter. This bloated document was the extra lesson list. "None of the kids are in it. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one. "By Gad. The headmaster had acted. I was one of the first to get it. "he is an old sportsman." "Thanks. You wait. It left out little. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned.right. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred. He lowers all records. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. Rather a good thing. I'm glad you got off. then?" "Rather." it began. "Bates must have got writer's cramp." said Mike. the school sergeant. He was quite fresh." he said. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. I notice. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday. Only the bigger fellows. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. To-day.

and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. so you're all right. I don't blame him either. you're better off than I am. incidentally. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No. if it were me. Let's see." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. it isn't you. do you?" said Mike awkwardly." said Mike." "You don't think there's any chance of it. Don't break down. by Jove! I forgot. Wyatt. Adams."Well. Any more? No." said Wyatt seriously. really.C. captain of Wrykyn cricket. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. if his fielding was something extra special." "I should be awfully sick. I should think they'd give you a chance. Anyhow. You'll probably get my place in the team. "I'm not rotting." said Mike. especially as he's a bowler himself. rather. overcome. I thought you weren't." said Mike indignantly. But there'll be several vacancies. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. The present was one of the rare . nobody can say I didn't ask for it. "Or. That's next Wednesday. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled." "Oh. match. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot. Burgess is simply mad on fielding." "You needn't rot. was a genial giant. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. Probably Druce." "An extra's nothing much. So you field like a demon this afternoon. Me. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. like everybody else. what rot!" "It is." "I'm not breaking down." said Mike uncomfortably." * * * * * Billy Burgess. Fielding especially." "I say.C. buck up. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening. making a century in record time). He had his day-dreams. "it's awfully decent of you." "I say." continued Wyatt. rather. "All right. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M. one of the places. whatever his batting was like." "Well. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. Still. that's the lot. Ashe.

C. Dash. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute. I've dropped my stud." "Why don't you play him against the M.. in the excitement of the moment the M." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack." "You haven't got a mind. shortly before lock-up. He's as tall as I am. There it is in the corner. That's your trouble. Then he returned to the attack.C." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end. I will say that for him. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked." grumbled Burgess.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when . "The fact is." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully. Wyatt found him in his study. Dropped a sitter off me to-day. as Wyatt appeared. And I'd jump on the sack first." "I suppose he is. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No. like the soldier in Shakespeare. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply.. match went clean out of my mind. full of strange oaths. give me a kiss." "Rot." "Right ho!.C. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. jumping at his opportunity. That kid's good. "He's as good a bat as his brother." said Wyatt." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. and let's be friends. Besides. he isn't small. "I'm awfully sorry. "Eight. Bill. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. and drop you into the river. and a better field. For a hundred and three. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man. "Come on." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal.C. I was on the spot.

" said Wyatt. and you rave about top men in the second. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock." he said. Better stick to the men at the top of the second. at Lord's. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments." "You play him. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age. "You rotter. "I'll think it over." said Wyatt." he said. Burgess. He read it. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. B. His own name. chaps who play forward at everything. For. "All right. just above the W. Give him a shot. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's." Burgess hesitated.C. Frightful gift of the gab you've got. "Just give him a trial. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M. That kid's a genius at cricket. better . "You know. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. Wyatt. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. then. it's a bit risky." "Good. wouldn't you? Very well." said Burgess. The bell went ages ago. how you 'discovered' M. "Think it over. I shall be locked out. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. there is a curious.C. and his heart missed a beat. CHAPTER XIII THE M. Everything seems hushed and expectant. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for. poor kids. So long.C. bottom but one." Wyatt got up. gassing to your grandchildren. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. Jackson." Wyatt stopped for breath. was a name that leaped from the paper at him.C. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. even Joe. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag.

feeling quite hollow.after lunch." "Well. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. you know." he chuckled.. when the strangeness has worn off." "Of course." Joe took Mike by the shoulder. sir. Three chaps are in extra. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. Master Mike!" The professional beamed." said Saunders. hopeless feeling left Mike. I always said it." said Saunders. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman. "Isn't it ripping. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. isn't he. and quite suddenly. "By Jove. "Why. sir. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. you'll make a hundred to-day. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. Hullo. and I got one of the places. Master Joe. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the . "Didn't I always say it." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club." he said. "Why. and stopped dead. Saunders?" "He is. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily. team came down the steps. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo." "Well. the lost. and then they'll have to put you in. to wait.C. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment. I'm only playing as a sub.C. here he is. saw him. "Got all the strokes. He stopped short. I'm hanged! Young marvel. Mike walked across from Wain's. as Saunders had done. Only wants the strength. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. where he had changed. Master Mike. Master Mike. He could almost have cried with pure fright. Saunders!" cried Mike. so that they could walk over together.

the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. but he contrived to chop it away.b. sorry as a captain. And.C. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. just when things seemed most hopeless. It was a moment too painful for words. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. not to mention the other first-class men. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. Saunders is our only bowler. relief came. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses.w." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. almost held it a second time. but he is. Burgess was glad as a private individual. It was the easiest of slip-catches. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success." "I _have_ won the toss. dropped it. . and Burgess tried a change of bowling. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. At twenty. Bob. You wait till he gets at us to-day. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. The Authentic.M. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. For himself." "This is our star. who grinned bashfully. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. exhibiting Mike. "Aged ten last birthday. Joe began to open his shoulders. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. for Joe." said the other with dignity. team.C. and was l.C. but Bob fumbled it. aren't you. still taking risks. As a captain. tried to late-cut a rising ball. getting in front of his wicket. The beginning of the game was quiet. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap. The M. and playing for the school. missed it. conscious of being an uncertain field. as usual. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. "I never saw such a family. The wicket was hard and true. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. and hoping that nothing would come his way. You are only ten. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. "What do you think of this?" said Joe. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. On the other hand.C. was feeling just the same. and the pair gradually settled down.

C. to make the runs. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. the end was very near. Some years before. but exceedingly hard to shift. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. there was scarcely time. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. things settled down. on the present occasion. Saunders. Then Joe reached his century. A hundred an hour is quick work. and two hundred and fifty. Following out this courageous advice. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. as usual. Both batsmen were completely at home. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. Runs came with fair regularity. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. a little on the slow side. Joe was still in at one end. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. "By Jove.The school revived. they had run up four hundred and sixteen.C. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. against Ripton. the first-wicket man. "Better have a go for them. was stumped half-way through the third. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. Then came lunch. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs. The hundred went up at five o'clock. invincible. A comfortable." he said to Berridge and Marsh. Unfortunately. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. the hundred and fifty at half-past. hit two boundaries." said Burgess. the school first pair.C. I wish I was in. all round the wicket. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. and the M. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. and was stumped next ball. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. Burgess. total over the three hundred. Morris. After this." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . Two hundred went up. Berridge. was optimistic. "Lobs. Four after four.C. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. His second hit had just lifted the M. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. but wickets fell at intervals. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. however. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. coming in last. third-change bowlers had been put on. was a thoroughly sound bat. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. and was then caught by Mike.

"Two hundred and twenty-nine. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. He was jogging on steadily to his century. three of them victims to the lobs. Twenty runs were added. and Morris. . Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. It was the same story to-day. And that was the end of Marsh. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. "and it's ten past six. all through gentle taps along the ground. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. tottered out into the sunshine. The bowler smiled sadly." he added to Mike. five wickets were down." said Burgess. and a thin. The first over yielded six runs. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. Morris was still in at one end. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. For a time things went well. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. He wished he could stop them. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. seemed to give Morris no trouble. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. At last he arrived. but they were distinctly envious. as if he hated to have to do these things. Mike drew courage from his attitude." All!. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. because they had earned it. insinuating things in the world. Bob. He had refused to be tempted. Lobs are the most dangerous. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. He knew his teeth were chattering. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. Saunders. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. "That's all you've got to do. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over.. As a matter of fact. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. It was his turn next. At the wickets. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. The long stand was followed. In the second. and Mike. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. Stick in. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. fumbling at a glove.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. by a series of disasters. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. and hit the wicket. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. and get the thing over. Bob Jackson went in next. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. as usual. he felt better.. No good trying for the runs now. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment.

the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. doubtless. "To leg. and. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. Now. was undoubtedly kind-hearted.." said the umpire. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. wryly but gratefully. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. Even the departure of Morris. moment Mike felt himself again. Saunders was beginning his run. but he himself must simply stay in. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. The moment had come. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball." said a voice. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl. he failed signally. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. besides being conscientious. "Play straight. did not disturb him. If so. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. just the right distance away from the off-stump. It was a half-volley. sometimes a cut. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. Mike would have liked to have run two. skips and the jump. and Saunders. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. Mike grinned. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. and you can't get out. Burgess continued to hit. it was Mike's first appearance for the school." It was Joe. He felt equal to the situation. The bowling became a shade loose. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. the school was shouting. and invariably hit a boundary. The next moment the dreams had come true. Saunders was a conscientious man. Half-past six chimed. Burgess came in. On the other hand.. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. "Don't be in a funk. There was only Reeves to follow him. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease.. but always a boundary. . And in the dreams he was always full of confidence. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. All nervousness had left him. sir. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. and bowled. Sometimes a drive. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. which he hit to the terrace bank.

The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. Five: another yorker. "I'll give him another shot. "I told you so. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint.The lob bowler had taken himself off. You won't get any higher. as has been pointed out. He hit out. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap. "He's not bad. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. and Mike got his place in the next match. Number two: yorker. fast left-hand. of the School House. against the Gentlemen of the County. dropped down into the second." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. First one was given one's third eleven cap. "nothing. jumping. and missed the wicket by an inch. Mike let it alone. It hummed over his head. "I'm sorry about your nose. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. the visiting team. almost at a venture. Mike played it back to the bowler. who had played twice for the first eleven." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. however gentlemanly. at any rate as far . and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. and we have our eye on you.C. here you are. Four: beat him. to Burgess after the match. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. Unfortunately for him. "You are a promising man." Mike was a certainty now for the second. this may not seem an excessive reward. were not brilliant cricketers." Then came the second colours. match. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M." said Wyatt. Down on it again in the old familiar way. and mid-off. at the last ball. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper.C. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. All was well. * * * * * So Wilkins. so you may as well have the thing now. as many a good man had done before him." But Burgess." said Burgess. But it was all that he expected. They might mean anything from "Well. Joe. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him." said the wicket-keeper. naturally. just failed to reach it. That meant.

In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. prancing down the pitch." he said. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. . House matches had begun. Ellerby. Mike pounded it vigorously. did better in this match. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. The Gazeka. Then Wain's opened their innings. "Come on. bursting with fury. It happened in this way. and was thoroughly set. made a fuss. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. hit one in the direction of cover-point. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. but Firby-Smith. See? That's all. match. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. mind you don't go getting swelled head. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. Morris making another placid century. Bob. and was then caught at cover. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. and Marsh all passing the half-century. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. as the star. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. who had the bowling. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. this score did not show up excessively. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. He was enjoying life bowling was concerned. of the third eleven. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. "Well. and Berridge. Raikes possessed few subtleties. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. having the most tender affection for his dignity. he waxed fat and kicked. The school won the toss. was captain of the side. as head of the house. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him.C. went in first. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. not out. For some ten minutes all was peace. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. Mike went in first wicket. supported by some small change. Run along. to the detriment of Mike's character. and." Mike departed. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. with Raikes. eh? Well. He had made seventeen. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon. and he and Wyatt went in first. The following.C. when the Gazeka. _verbatim_. making twenty-five. To one who had been brought up on Saunders." he shouted.

the wicket-keeper removed the bails. cover having thrown the ball in. avoided him. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused. "It isn't funny. he was also sensitive on the subject. a prefects' meeting. "Easy run there." he said reprovingly. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees. The world swam before Mike's eyes. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. Firby-Smith arrived. Firby-Smith did not grovel." Burgess looked incredulous. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. and lick him. miss it. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. "Rather a large order. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. thought Firby-Smith. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings. shouting "Run!" and. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel.Mike. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity." . The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley. a man of simple speech." he said. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that." he said. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. "Don't _laugh_. chewing the insult. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. And Mike. was also head of the school. you know. "I want to speak to you. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. Burgess. And only a prefects' meeting. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. feeling now a little apprehensive. "What's up?" said Burgess. besides being captain of the eleven." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. These are solemn moments. you grinning ape!" he cried." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. At close of play he sought Burgess. "You know young Jackson in our house. Burgess.

a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. Bob occurred to him. Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. Besides. match. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. and particularly the M. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. Burgess started to laugh." said Firby-Smith. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. well--Well. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details. therefore. as the nearest of kin." he said meditatively.C. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion." "He's frightfully conceited. In the second place. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. It became necessary. On the other hand. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. . "Well. And here was another grievance against fate. "Rather thick. anyhow. look here. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. Here was he. were strong this year at batting. "Yes. I mean--A prefects' meeting. with the air of one uttering an epigram. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be. but he thought the thing over. It was only fair that Bob should be told.C. Still. but turned the laugh into a cough. he's a decent kid. Geddington. and let you know to-morrow. He thought he would talk it over with somebody." "Oh. In the first place. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington." And the matter was left temporarily at that. the results of the last few matches. I'll think it over. Bob was one of his best friends. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. and Bob's name did not appear on that list.

I suppose if the Gazeka insists. I sympathise with the kid. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. handsome chap." said Bob. but in fielding there was a great deal." he added. Mike was good. but he _is_ an ass. "Personally. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess. Have some?" "No. you can." suggested Burgess. can't you? This is me. You know how to put a thing nicely." "It's awfully awkward. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. you know. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. dark. one's bound to support him. look here. So out Bob had gone. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. and Neville-Smith. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study. "Take a pew. the man." "I suppose so. thanks. sitting over here." "Well. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry." he said." continued Burgess gloomily. I want to see you. the captain. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. The tall. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith. "Silly young idiot. He came to me frothing with rage. "Still----" "I know. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely. "Hullo. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened. "Sickening thing being run out. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. It's rather hard to see what to do." . Bob.' Billy. took his place. Bob was bad. I say. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. Bob?" he asked. "Still. "Busy. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. At batting there was not much to choose between the two.

and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. go and ask him to drop the business. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me." he said." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this. made him waver. you're not a bad sort. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now. "I wanted to see you. aren't you? Well. He gets right way." he said. though."Awful rot. He wants kicking. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. You know. you know. "Look here." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects. "Don't do that." emended the aggrieved party. "I thought you hadn't. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing. not much of a catch for me." . you're a pal of his. he became all animation. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out. "I didn't think of you. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know. I tell you what." he said." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. is there? I mean. "I say. apart from everything else. would it be." said Bob. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith. Look here. having to sit there and look on. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. One cannot help one's thoughts. Seeing Bob. I'm a prefect. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. "Yes?" "Oh. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. But he recovered himself." It was a difficult moment for Bob. I don't know. Not much good lugging the prefects into it. I know. too. nothing--I mean. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. "You see it now. You must play the the old Gazeka over. "I that sort. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. "Burgess was telling me. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. By now he'll have simmered down a bit. "Well." said Bob. Bob. He had a great admiration for Bob." he said. you know.

it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton. he gave him to understand. really. there's that. He was not inclined to be critical. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. and owed him many grudges. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. without interest. "I say. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. in the course of his address. you know. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. And. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. "I'm specially glad for one reason. and the offensively forgiving. Mike." "Yes." "What's that?" inquired Mike. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house. I think if I saw him and cursed him. He wished he could find some way of repaying him. . and Burton felt revengeful. He was a punctured balloon." "Of course it was. and went to find Mike. Curiously enough. fourteen years of age. it was frightful cheek. Mike's all right. After all. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. But for Bob. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed. he." "Thanks. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention."Well." "Thanks. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. of Donaldson's. All right then. I did run him out." said Burton." said Bob. so subdued was his fighting spirit. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn. most of all. Still. he felt grateful to Bob. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. Firby-Smith. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. of course. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. though without success. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest." said Mike. Reflection. and unburdened his soul to him." and Bob waving them back." "No. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind.

though. and gradually made up his mind. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. He thought the thing over more fully during school. He kicked Burton. Good-night. for his left was in a sling. that's bad luck. CHAPTER XVI . Be all right. He tapped with his right hand." And Burgess. We wanted your batting. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule. some taint." said Mike stolidly. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him. Not once or twice." "Hope so. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition. "Come in!" yelled the captain. He'd have been playing but for you. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8. rather.54 next morning. just before lock-up. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. They were _all_ beasts. but several times. retiring hurriedly. Beastly bad luck." said Mike. * * * * * Mike walked on."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing." "Thanks. anyway. I suppose?" "Oh." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much." "Good-night. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. and his decision remained unaltered. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. weighing this remark. too. as it were. in a day or two. yes." "I say. so that Burton. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. On the evening before the Geddington match. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. Burgess.

and. He had thereupon left the service. Uncle John took command of the situation at once." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect. There's a second match on. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life." "They're playing Geddington. But it's really nothing. I think I should like to see the place first. Only it's away. after an adventurous career. thanks.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth." "Hurt?" "Not much. . Mike? I want to see a match. His telegram arrived during morning school." "I could manage about that. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. Be all right by Monday. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer. Coming south. at the request of Mike's mother." "H'm. mainly in Afghanistan. Somebody ought to look at it. really. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. "School playing anybody to-day. Now. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection." "Doctor seen it?" "No. Still. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. I'll have a look later on. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again." "Never mind." "Why aren't you--Hullo. I didn't see. and. "It isn't anything. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house. what shall we do. Uncle John. It doesn't matter a bit. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another. It's nothing much.

" said Mike." he said enviously. What bad luck. There are only three vacancies. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit." "For the first? For the school! My word. I've got plenty of time. They look as if they were getting set. I was playing for the first. I should think. The thing was done. and done well. that. Neville-Smith. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business. by George!" remarked Uncle John. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. Then there'll be only the last place left. He's in the School House. "Chap in Donaldson's. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. they'll probably keep him in. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. it was this Saturday. A sudden. No wonder you're feeling badly treated. I didn't know that. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school. and they passed on to the cricket field. as Trevor. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. "If he does well to-day. Of course. It was a glorious day." "Still. I see. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. it's Bob's last year." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. but he choked the feeling down." two or three times in an absent voice." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded." Uncle John detected the envious note. and better do it as soon as possible. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. "That's Trevor. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago." "Rather awkward." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. But I wish I . Mike. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting. By Jove. but I thought that was only as a substitute. if he does well against Geddington. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said.Got to be done. Very nice. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. "Ah yes. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty.

" stammered Mike. "Let's just call at the shop. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested. Which reminds me. Mike was crimson. "I hope you don't smoke. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice. let me--Done it? Good. and sighed contentedly." said Mike." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. ." "Rotten trick for a boy." said Uncle John." Uncle John looked over his shoulder. The next piece of shade that you see. Mike?" "No." "Pull your left." said Mike.could get in this year. but his uncle had already removed the sling. Can you manage with one hand? Here. then gave it a little twist. I badly want a pipe. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. They got up. unskilful stroke. "That hurt?" he asked. I wonder how Bob's got on. "Geddington 151 for four. "It's really nothing. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds." he began." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage. sing out. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. and we'll put in there. "Ye--no. "Put the rope over that stump." After they had watched the match for an hour. Lunch. as he pulled up-stream with strong. "That willow's what you want. caught a crab. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches. Uncle John looked up sharply." said Mike. recovered himself. He could hear nothing but his own breathing. "The worst of a school. "But I believe they're weak in bowling. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games." "Not bad that. When you get to my age you need it." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes. The telegram read. Let's have a look at the wrist.

There was an exam. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. It had struck him as neat and plausible. "Jove. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point. It wasn't that. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. on. That's how it was. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign.. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. "May as well tell me. Mike told it. (This.. I was nearly asleep. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday." When in doubt.) "Swear you won't tell him. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. let his mind wander to Geddington." "I ought to be getting back soon. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations. gaping. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. swear you won't tell him. I think. and his uncle sat up. I won't give you away. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again. so I thought I might as well let him. where his fate was even now being sealed. well. Look here. Mike said nothing. dash it all then. one may as well tell the truth. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke. really." "I won't tell him." Uncle John was silent.. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. "I know. while Mike. Only----" "Well?" "Oh. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. would they give him his cap? Supposing. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington. Lock-up's at half-past. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty." .

" Mike worked his way back through the throng. I should think. and rejoined his uncle. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. "Well?" said Uncle John. Marsh 58. "Bob made forty-eight. Uncle John felt in his pocket. Mike pushed his way through the crowd. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever." "There'll be another telegram. thanks. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets. and they ragged the whole time. "It was simply baking at Geddington. It was the only possible reply. as they reached the school gates." said Mike. then. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. . eh? We are not observed. only they wouldn't let me. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first." He paused for a moment. Don't fall overboard." he added carelessly. I wanted to go to sleep. "By Jove. better. How's your wrist?" "Oh. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand." he said. I'm going to shove her off. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. I'm done. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. Jackson 48). CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause."Up with the anchor. "We won. Neville-Smith four)." Wyatt began to undress. It was a longer message this time. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed.

but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. to-day. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. though. he would get insomnia. can't remember who." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. had come to much the same conclusion. Ripping innings bar those two chances. Bob puts them both on the floor. He was very fond of Bob. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. With great guile he had fed this late cut. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. Bit of luck for Bob. No first. as he lay awake in his cubicle." "Why. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. when he does give a couple of easy chances. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. Just lost them the match. And. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. A bit lucky. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. Beastly man to bowl to. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. Chap had a go at it. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands."No. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. too. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. I was in at the other end. off Billy. Only one or two thirds." "Most captains would have done. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. reviewing the match that night. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. Soothed by these memories. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. If he dwelt on it. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. he fell asleep. Their umpire. Jenkins and Clephane. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. with watercress round it. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. He let their best man off twice in one over. and another chap. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. he felt. Never saw a clearer case in my life. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter." Burgess.

I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. As for Mike. Bob. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler." "Do you know. Trevor'll hit me up catches. he played for the second." "All right then. This did not affect the bulk of the school. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. Bob. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town." The conversation turned to less pressing topics." "I know. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. I could get time to watch them there. found his self-confidence returning slowly. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. "It's those beastly slip catches. drop by drop. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. I'm frightfully sorry. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference. * * * * * In the next two matches.chance of reforming." Bob was all remorse. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. but I mean. accordingly. Bob figured on the boundary. I'm certain the deep would be much better. About your fielding. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street. Both of them were. and hoped for the day. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now. I shall miss it. It's simply awful. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. I know that if a catch does come. I'll practise like mad. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom. I believe I should do better in the deep. I can't time them. as he stood regarding the game from afar. of Seymour's. "Look here. Try it." "Well. I hate the slips.

Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. Upstairs. and. He tried the junior day-room. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. Shoeblossom. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. and at the bottom of the heap. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. would be Shoeblossom. was called for. of the first eleven. The professional advice of Dr. On the Tuesday afternoon. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. at the same moment. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. squealing louder than any two others. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. and thought of Life. however necessary such an action might seem to him. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. where he read _Punch_. disappeared from Society. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. He had occasional headaches. Oakes. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. Marsh. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. the son of the house. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. too. The next victim was Marsh. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. who was top of the school averages. Shoeblossom came away. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. He made his way there. He tried out of doors. Two days later Barry felt queer. and in the dingy back shop. but people threw cushions at him. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. Where were his drives now." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. He. and also. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. peace.Quiet Student. the school doctor. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. entering the High Street furtively. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. Essentially a man of moods. what was more important. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. he was attending J. and returned to the school. In brief. for chicken-pox. G. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. sucked oranges.

they failed miserably. and after that the rout began. Too old now. too. "Well. They had only been beaten once. I remember. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. and I'm alone. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. The weather may have had something to do with it. The total was a hundred and seven. and the school. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms." . against a not overwhelmingly strong side. going in fourth wicket. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. I've got the taste in my mouth still. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. All sorts of luxuries. and Mike kept his end up. batting when the wicket was easier. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. three years ago. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game.elect. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. did anything to distinguish himself. Got through a slice. bar the servants. for Neville-Smith. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. but nobody except Wyatt. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. and ate that. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. And I can square them. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. Some schools do it in nearly every match. made a dozen. His food ran out. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. for rain fell early in the morning. and was not out eleven. Have to look after my digestion. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. But on this particular day. batting first on the drying wicket. and the Incogniti. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. when Wain's won the footer cup. Bob. for no apparent reason. doubled this. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully.

was more at his ease. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. though." continued Bob. I can't say more than that. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. being older. "Not seen much of each other lately. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's. of course. Pity to spoil the record. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. yes. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. of course. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly. We've all been at Wrykyn. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. Bob. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter. passed him the bread. When he had finished." "Oh. one wants the best man. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. Beastly awkward. Still." "You get on much better in the deep. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. he would just do it." "Bit better." Mike stared. He's bound to get in next year. making desultory conversation the while. I don't know." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. He got tea ready. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. "because it is." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period." "You were all right. But young Mike's all over him as a bat. and sat down. Why? What about?" . Mike. he poured Mike out a cup.

There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. After all. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. Billy agreed with him. I heard every word. just now. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. sir?' Spence said. So Mike edged out of the room. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle." It was the custom at Wrykyn. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped. And so home. but don't feel bound to act on it. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. Bob.'" "Oh. "Thanks. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. and now he had achieved it. They shook hands. 'Well.' said Spence." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. There was nothing much to _be_ said." said Mike. and that's what he's there for. It's the fortune of war." resumed Bob. I couldn't help hearing what they said. I fancy you've won. He was sorry for Bob. wiping the sweat off his forehead. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. . sir.. 'Well. but.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. on the other hand. 'It's rough on Bob. As it isn't me. what I wanted to see you about was this. "Not at all.' 'Yes. I'm jolly glad it's you. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. of course. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. They thought the place was empty. It had been his one ambition. '_I_ think M. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything. The pav. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. and said nothing. and tore across to Wain's. He's a shade better than R. there'll be no comparison. 'I don't know what to do. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. I waited a bit to give them a good start."Well. Billy said. to shake his hand. Burgess. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. he's cricket-master. and so on. awfully. I'll give you my opinion." muttered Mike. and then sheered off myself. 'Decidedly M. I've a sort of idea our little race is over. I'm simply saying what I think.' said old Bill.' he said. Spence said. sir. now. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life." Mike looked at the floor. in the First room. "Well. of course. Congratulate you. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. Well.'s like a sounding-board. rot. and I picked it up and started reading it. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. What do you think. don't let's go to the other extreme. and in a year or two. I was in the pav. 'That's just what I think.

He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. As he passed it. was not. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. a prospect that appealed to him. The only possible confidant was Wyatt. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. even on a summer morning. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. This was to the good.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. Reaching out a hand for his watch. And Wyatt was at Bisley. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels. It would have to be done. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. . He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. he found that it was five minutes past six. Mike could tell nobody. and a little more. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. F. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman.--W. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. therefore. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices.30 to-morrow morning. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. orders were orders. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets. dash it. Until he returned." said Mike. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed." "Oh. Still. he felt. as it always does. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. It wouldn't do. and this silent alarm proved effective.-S. He took his quarter of an hour.

the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. "look here. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. he said to himself. "Young Jackson. Didn't you see the notice?" . Here was he. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. But not a chap who. yes. But logic is of no use. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. I want to know what it all means. by the way.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. Was this right. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again." he said. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. that Mike. and glared. The painful interview took place after breakfast. Firby-Smith straightened his tie. he felt. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. dash it all. he asked himself. Mike thought he would take another minute. being ordered about. inconvenienced--in short. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. One simply lies there. And outside in the cricket-field. in coming to his den. One knows that delay means inconvenience. and jolly quick. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. Now he began to waver. One would have felt. looking at him. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. It was time. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. Who _was_ he. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. and waited. would be bad enough. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. Make the rest of the team fag about. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. after all? This started quite a new train of thought.

did you? Well. I've had my eye on you for some time. That's got nothing to do with it. and I'm captain of it. You've got swelled head. this." "Oh." "I don't. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. That's what you've got. "Do--you--see. just listen to me. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. Frightful swelled head. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you." said the Gazeka shrilly. "Yes. and I've seen it coming on. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. Happy thought: over-slept himself. He mentioned this. See?" Mike said nothing. you do. You think the place belongs to you." said Mike indignantly. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment. Just because you've got your second. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary." said Mike. turn up or not. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. but he rather fancied not. "Six!" "Five past. Awfully embarrassing. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. as you please. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. The rather large grain of truth in what . The point is that you're one of the house team. you think you can do what you like. young man. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. It was not according to his complicated. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. "Then you frightful kid. you went to sleep again.

but that was to give the other fellows a chance. Wyatt was worn out." He left the dormitory. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. What one really wants here is a row of stars. Well. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. Mike's jaw set more tightly. If it's a broken heart. A-ah!" He put down the glass. as he had nearly done once before." he said. "That's the cats. "What's your trouble?" he asked. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. "Do you see?" he asked again. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar. Failing that. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. "Oh. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. and I suppose it always will be. but cheerful. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. Always at it. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. He set his teeth. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. water will do. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. I'll go down and look. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. and stared at a photograph on the wall. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. and his feelings were hurt. Zam-buk's what you want.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. for a beaker full of the warm south. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. Wyatt came back. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target." . young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. and surveyed Mike. full of the true. I didn't hit the bull every time. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. Very heady.

The speaker then paused." "No. my gentle che-ild. "Nothing like this old '87 water. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow." said Mike morosely. and. you've got to obey him. a word in your ear. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture." "In passing. while I get dropped on if I break out." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator." "I mean. really. Cheers from the audience. and."He said I stuck on side. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. and say. you stick it on. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were . It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. that 'ere is. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it. You stick on side." "What! Why?" "Oh. That's discipline. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. "I say. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night. "Such body. There are some things you simply can't do." he said. It's too early in the morning. blood as you are at cricket. "And why. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding. putting down the jug. drew a deep breath. I don't know. If he's captain. 'Jackson.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. you'll have a rotten time here." "Why?" "I don't know." "I didn't turn up." "I like you jawing about discipline. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. did he buttonhole you on your way to school. Otherwise. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong. 'Talking of side. but. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in. He winked in a friendly way. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. look here. I defy any one to.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say. silent natures.

having beaten Ripton. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. Until you learn that. I don't know why. or. About my breaking out. . I thank you. Ripton. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. but each played each. but it isn't done. really meant. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. That night. but it generally did. There was no actual championship competition. His feelings were curiously mixed. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. and Wilborough formed a group. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. In this way. would go down before Wilborough. for the first time in his life. Eton. most forms of law and order. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. Harrow. Paul's are a third." he concluded modestly. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. cheerful disregard of. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. "me. rather. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. When you're a white-haired old man like me. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. Haileybury. as far as games are concerned. But this did not happen often. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups." Mike made no reply.saying--just so. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. young Jackson. He would have perished rather than admit it. That was the match with Ripton. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. If Wyatt. before the Ripton match. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. Wrykyn. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. Geddington. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. and St. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. of which so much is talked and written. if possible. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. Dulwich. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. or Wrykyn. the other you mustn't ever break. Tonbridge.

His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. and he hated to have to do it. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. accordingly. he would have kept Bob In. "Pleasure is pleasure. . With him at short slip. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. * * * * * When school was over. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. In case of accident. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. there was a week before the match. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. Spence. But. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. The report was more than favourable. As it was. and sprint. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. He could write it after tea. engrossed in his book. and held it. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. If he could have pleased himself. And. "Well held. Bob got to it with one hand. There were two vacancies." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him.Burgess. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. the sorrier he was for him. as the poet has it. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. and he had done well in the earlier matches. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. Finally he had consulted Mr. he postponed the thing. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. It was a difficult catch. but he was steady." said Burgess. feeling that life was good. One gave him no trouble. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. Spence had voted for Mike. He had fairly earned his place. and Mr. The more he thought of it. From small causes great events do spring. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession." "Banzai!" said Burgess. and biz is biz. After all.

A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. his mind full of Bob once more. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. He'll be able to play on Saturday. "You're hot stuff in the deep. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. "What's up?" inquired Burgess. and became the cricket captain again. "Young Jackson. He was glad for the sake of the school. and all the time the team was filled up. Burgess passed on." "Easy when you're only practising. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. "I couldn't get both hands to it. as who should say. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. nothing. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast." said Bob. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. but one has one's personal ambitions."Hullo. It was decidedly a blow. and so he proceeded to tell . on being told of Mike's slackness." said Bob awkwardly." There was. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence." "Good. did not enter his mind. but it's all right. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him." "Oh. He suppressed his personal feelings. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding." "The frightful kid cut it this morning. There are many kinds of walk." "I've just been to the Infirmary." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house. That Burgess would feel. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. towards the end of the evening. in fact." he explained. it may be mentioned. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. do you mean? Oh. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself." said the Gazeka. "This way for Iron Wills. Firby-Smith. It was the cricket captain who. What hard luck it was! There was he. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him. of course.

It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list. "Congratulate you. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. Bob. as he was rather late. met Bob coming in. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. There was no possibility of in detail. and passed on. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. "Congratulate you. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. therefore. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him. Trevor came out of the block. Bob stared after him. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. As he stared. "Hard luck!" said somebody. He looked at the paper. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. that looked less like an M. Bob. than the one on that list. Mike scarcely heard him. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . Bob had beaten him on the tape. Since writing was invented. going out. hurrying." he said. * * * * * When. there had never been an R. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment.

for next year."Seen what?" "Why the list. Here it is." said Mike. Bob snatched gladly at the subject. you'll have three years in the first." "My--what? you're rotting. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument. Bob. if you want to read it. "Congratulate you." said Mike. very long way off. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. "Jolly glad you've got it. You've got your first. "Got a letter from mother this morning. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. and Burgess agree with him. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. as the post was late. They moved slowly through the cloisters. Go and look. with equal awkwardness. Not much in it. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin. I'm not. Just then. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's." said Bob. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school. feeling very ill. This was no place for him. Mike. delicately. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. No reason why he shouldn't. There was a short silence. Trevor moved on." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. "I believe there's a mistake." The thing seemed incredible. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike." "No." "Well. You're a cert. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation." "Thanks. "Thanks awfully. It'll be something to do during Math. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute." "Hope so." . next year seems a very. it's jolly rummy. I showed you the last one. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably." he said awkwardly. came down the steps. neither speaking. When one has missed one's colours. "Anyhow.

" and. but followed. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter. too." said Mike amiably." Mike resented the tone." "Why not here?" "Come on. As they went out on the gravel." he said. Mike was. and went up to the headmaster. "Got that letter?" "Yes. and. Bob appeared curiously agitated. as it were. I'll show it you outside. sitting up and taking nourishment. but it was lessened. "What's up?" asked Mike. it's for me all right. even an irritated look. that. "Hullo. with some surprise. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. When they had left the crowd behind. Mike heard the words "English Essay. there appeared on his face a worried. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. he stopped. and Mike noticed." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. Haven't had time to look at it yet." "No. somebody congratulated Bob again. for the first time in her life. I'll give it you in the interval." "After you. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it. These things are like kicks on the shin. A brief spell of agony. He seemed to have something on his mind.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. seeing Mike. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it. "Read that. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. He looked round. The disappointment was still there. and which in time disappears altogether. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate. When the bell rang for the interval that morning."Marjory wrote. seeing that the conversation was .

Phyllis has a cold. She was jolly sick about it. Have you got your first? If you have." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document.-"I hope you are quite well. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. He read it during school. under the desk. She was a breezy correspondent. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire.S. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. but usually she entertained rather than upset people. He put the missive in his pocket. Well. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. Why don't you do that? "M.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne.--This has been a frightful fag to write. I am quite well. it ." There followed a P. Reggie made a duck. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. Bob had had cause to look worried. with a style of her own.P. and let it take its chance with the other news-items.apparently going to be one of some length. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter.S. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. "P. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. and ceased to wonder. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. lead up to it. and display it to the best advantage. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. it will be all through Mike. I told her it served her right. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). and it's _the_ match of the season. capped the headmaster and walked off.

And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter. I suppose I am. The team was filled up. but she had put her foot right in it. "Of course. and all that. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all." . and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it. I couldn't choke him off.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow." he broke off hotly. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids." "Well. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out. So it came out. He came down when you were away at Geddington. You know. They met at the nets. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. Marjory meant well. it was beastly awkward." "I didn't think you'd ever know. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. "Well?" said Bob. "Did you read it?" "Yes. "I mean. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. Bob couldn't do much. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. "I did. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me." he said at last. and would insist on having a look at my arm.. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way. that's how it was. Still.. I don't know. "I know I ought to be grateful." said Mike. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. is it all rot. If he was going to let out things like that. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. Besides. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him. and Burgess was not likely to alter it. he might at least have whispered them. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him. "How do you mean?" said Mike." Bob stared gloomily at his toes..

" added Mike. admitting himself beaten. "I shall get in next year all right. He thought he would go home. sixty feet from the ground. anyhow."I don't remember. Or. Others try to grapple with them." "Oh. and slides out of such situations. "Well. The sensible man realises this. and it grew so rapidly that. it's all over now." He sidled off. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair. I decide to remain here. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. but the air was splendid and the view excellent. finding this impossible. but. and had a not unpleasant time. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right." said Bob to himself." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak." Mike said. well. When affairs get into a real tangle. This is Philosophy. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. Half a second." "I'm hanged if it is. He looked helplessly at Mike. "Besides." Which he did. When?" "That Firby-Smith business. when he awoke. "Anyhow. he altered his plans. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate. "I must see Burgess about it. who sat down on an acorn one day. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. simply to think no more about them. if one does not do that. but it never does any good. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out." he said. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. "Well. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up." "What about it?" "Well. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. and happened to doze. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. .

but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. but why should you do anything? You're all right. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. Imitate this man. in council. At which period he remarked a rum business. though. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders." "I do. after Mike's fashion. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. like the man in the oak-tree." . So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. Very sporting of your brother and all that. Bob should have done so. "I suppose you can't very well. It's me. might find some way of making things right for everybody.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. It's not your fault." said Bob. It would not be in the picture. Though. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. have to be carried through stealthily. what you say doesn't help us out much. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head. of course. if they are to be done at school." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. I could easily fake up some excuse. seeing that the point is. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. in it. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. at the moment. Besides. if possible. "Still. consulted on the point. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. and took the line of least resistance. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. You simply keep on saying you're all right. "But I must do something. now it's up." Bob agreed. These things. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. I don't know if it's occurred to you. Tell you what. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. And Burgess. and here you _are_. confessed to the same to solve the problem. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative.

expansive grin. If you really want to know. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board. if that's any good to you. Wyatt. thanks for reminding me. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything. You sweated away." said Bob." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that. I feel like--I don't know what. Not that you did. all right." said Neville-Smith. That slight smile of yours will meet behind. At any rate." "Oh. as the Greek exercise books say. So you see how it is. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant . I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board." "I don't care. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his.." "Anyhow. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it. if you don't look out. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind." "He isn't so keen. with a brilliant display of front teeth. I've got my first." "Well. but supposing you had. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets. A bad field's bad enough. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. and improved your fielding twenty per cent."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. So long. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours. but a slack field wants skinning. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face. He's a young slacker." "I'll tell you what you look like. whatever happens. "Thanks. that's why you've got your first instead of him. he did tell me." "Smith oughtn't to have told you. so out he went. and then the top of your head'll come off." "Mind the step." said Burgess. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. As the distance between them lessened. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say.

nor iron bars a cage. I needn't throw a brick. I'll try to do as little damage as possible." "No. You'll see the window of my room. for goodness sake." "But one or two day-boys are coming. can't you?" "Delighted. for one. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep." "Good man. a sudden compunction seized upon ." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people." "The school is going to the dogs. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. Make it a bit earlier. We shall have rather a rag. It'll be the only one lighted up. I get on very well. It's just above the porch.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do. eleven'll do me all right. if you like. You can roll up." "The race is degenerating. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders. I've often thought of asking my pater for one." As Wyatt was turning away. They all funked have at home in honour of my getting my first. anyhow it's to-night. I'm going to get the things now. Clephane is. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school." "So will the glass--with a run. Still. if I did." "Yes." "They ought to allow you a latch-key. After all. I expect. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me. Still. and I'll come down." "You _will_ turn up. All the servants'll have gone to bed. I shall manage it. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough. Anything for a free feed in these hard times. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. which I have--well. Heave a pebble at it. And Beverley." "Said it wasn't good enough." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make.

we must make the best of things. you always are breaking out at night." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. "I say. though. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night." "I shall do my little best not to be. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached. I've used all mine. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first. "What's up?" he asked.Neville-Smith. Ginger-beer will flow like water. getting back. "but this is the maddest. that's all right. do you? I mean. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. but he did not state his view of the case. No expense has been spared. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR. They've no thought for people's convenience here." said Wyatt. and the wall by the . If so." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse." "Don't go getting caught." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night." "Oh. I should have gone out anyhow to-night. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. merriest day of all the glad New Year. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. APPLEBY "You may not know it. you don't think it's too risky. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. All you have to do is to open the window and step out. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. "Don't you worry about me. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place. He called him back. I've got to climb two garden walls. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. Rather tricky work. I don't know if he keeps a dog. Still.

Why not. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. and let himself out of the back door. There was a full moon. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. Much better have flowers. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. Wain's. Appleby. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. and was in the lane within a minute. which had suffered on the two walls. but the room had got hot and stuffy. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds.potting-shed was a feline club-house. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. Crossing this. sniffing as he walked. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. for instance. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. true. it is true. There he paused. He was fond of his garden. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. It was a glorious July night. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. dusted his trousers. Appleby. Then he decided on the latter. The window of his study was open. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. the master who had the house next to Mr. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. ran lightly across it. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. From here he could see the long garden. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. He was in plenty of time. whatever you did to it. "What a night!" he said to himself. This was the route which he took to-night. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. They were all dark. At present there remained much to be done. he climbed another wall. and get a decent show for one's money in . and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter.

examining. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. liked and respected by boys and masters. close his eyes or look the other way. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. As far as he could see. it was not serious. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. Appleby. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. the extent of the damage done. he would have done so. Sentiment. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. With a sigh of relief Mr. bade him forget the episode. and remember that he is in a position of trust. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. Mr. Appleby that first awoke to action. he had recognised him. without blame. Breaking out at night. and. to the parents. He receives a salary for doing this duty. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. . A master must check it if it occurs too frequently.summer at any rate. It was on another plane. As he dropped into the lane. He went his way openly. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. He always played the game. Appleby had left his chair. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. on hands and knees. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. Appleby. wondering how he should act. of course. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. was a different thing altogether. and indirectly. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. It was not an easy question. He paused. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. and rose to his feet. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. He knew that there were times when a master might. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. however. through the headmaster. with the aid of the moonlight. The surprise. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. but he may use his discretion. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. treat it as if it had never happened. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin.

" began Mr. like a sea-beast among rocks. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. Exceedingly so. The thing still rankled. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. and walked round to Wain's. Wain. Appleby. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. "Can I have a word with you. I'm afraid." said Mr. He could not let the matter rest where it was. only it's something important. About Wyatt. and squeezed through into the room. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border." And. The blind shot up. Appleby. in the middle of which stood Mr. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree." Mr. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. Appleby came over his relighted pipe. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table. He tapped on the window. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. shall I? No need to unlock the door. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. I'll climb in through here. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. . Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard." "Sorry. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. greatly to Mr. Mr. if you don't mind. but they would have to wait. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. Mr. Wain. Wain?" he said. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. "I'll smoke. He turned down his lamp.This was the conclusion to which Mr. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. Mr.

a little nettled. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. Appleby. Wain on reflection. I am astonished. Exceedingly so. You're the parent." "There is certainly something in what you say." "I don't see why. Appleby. "Let's leave it at that. "A good deal. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. If you come to think of it. That is a very good idea of yours. You are not going?" "Must." "You must have been mistaken." "Possibly. Tackle the boy when he comes in." said Mr. Appleby offered no suggestion. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. Sorry to have disturbed you. Why." "You astound me. Good-night. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all. You are quite right. It isn't like an ordinary case. Appleby. He had taken the only possible course." "I will." "Good-night. then." "No. Appleby. He was wondering what would happen. and have it out with him. this is most extraordinary. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled. "What shall I do?" Mr. That is certainly the course I should pursue. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster." "So was I."James! In your garden! Impossible. sit down." Mr. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory. You can deal with the thing directly." "He's not there now. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. Got a pile of examination papers to look over." "Bars can be removed. It's like daylight out of doors. Yes." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred. and. He hoped ." said Mr. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster." Mr. "I ought to report it to the headmaster. Dear me. He would have no choice. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself.

and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. Lately. he felt. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. It was not all roses. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. the life of an assistant master at a public school. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. He blew the candle out.. Mr. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. and nothing else. by silent but mutual agreement. was the last straw. Mr. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. But the other bed was empty. as a complete nuisance. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. and then consider the episode closed. least of all in those many years younger than himself. The moon shone in through the empty space. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. he would hardly have returned yet. He took a candle. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes.. Appleby had been right. he reflected wrathfully. He grunted. He liked Wyatt. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. broken by various small encounters. Wyatt he had regarded. and walked quietly upstairs. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. If further proof had been needed. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. asleep.. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. This breaking-out. a sorrowful. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. pondering over the news he had heard. therefore. The light of the candle fell on both beds. . And the bars across the window had looked so solid. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. and the night was warm.. and waited there in the semi-darkness.they would not. Mr.. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. It would be a thousand pities. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. If he had gone out. it was true. thinking. Mike was there. if he were to be expelled. He had been working hard. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up. It was not. one of the bars was missing from the window.. so much as an exasperated.

The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. At that moment Mr. Mike saw him start. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. But he should leave. Mr. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. His voice sounded ominously hollow. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. father!" he said pleasantly. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. is that you. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. as the house-master shifted his position. Wain. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. . Then he seemed to recover himself. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. and rubbed his hands together. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. asking them to receive his step-son at once. The time had come to put an end to it. "James!" said Mr. and that immediately. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. and the letter should go by the first post next day. immediately. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. Wain relit his candle. Wyatt dusted his knees. Jackson.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. He lay down again without a word. "Go to sleep. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. There was literally no way out. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. "Hullo!" said Mike. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up." snapped the house-master. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. but could hear nothing. Wyatt should not be expelled. "Hullo.

' We . and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot. "I am astonished." "I got a bit of a start myself." said Wyatt at last. "I say. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours. Exceedingly astonished. Me sweating to get in quietly." said Wyatt. He flung himself down on his bed. I shall be sorry to part with you. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. To Mike. sir. I say. Wain spoke. I say. The swift and sudden boot. Follow me there. Speaking at a venture." He left the room. "I shall talk to you in my study. it seemed a long silence. it's awful. now." said Wyatt. speaking with difficulty. "It's all right." "What'll he do. holding his breath." "Yes. what!" "But. "You have been out. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. Mike began to get alarmed. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. Suppose I'd better go down.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. "Yes. sir. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. rolling with laughter. About an hour. Wyatt!" said Mike. "But. lying in bed. I suppose. really. Then Mr. do you think?" "Ah. my little Hyacinth. "That reminds me.

Well. out of the house. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. "Sit down." "Not likely. sir. then. That'll be me." * * * * * In the study Mr. at that hour?" "I went for a walk." "The fact is----" said Wyatt. sir." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. I follow. Wain jumped nervously. "It slipped. This is my Moscow. choking sob. sir." "And. James." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . Don't go to sleep. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. Mr. "Well. "Only my slipper." explained Wyatt. I suppose I'd better go down. "Exceedingly.shall meet at Philippi." Mr. and began to tap the table. James?" Wyatt said nothing. Wyatt sat down." he said. Wain took up a pen. minions. 'tis well! Lead on. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter. "Well?" "I haven't one." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view." "What?" "Yes. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_." "What were you doing out of your dormitory. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes. may I inquire. Where are me slippers? Ha. sir.

In a minute or two he would be asleep. they only gain an extra fortnight of me." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. James." said Wyatt. even were I disposed to do so. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. Exceedingly so. but this is a far more serious matter." "You will leave directly I receive his letter. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. James. Wyatt. You must leave the school. to see this attitude in you. It is impossible for me to overlook it. father. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour." Wyatt nodded." "I need hardly say." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry. It's sending me to sleep. Wain. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected. . ignoring the interruption. Do you understand? That is all. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. "As you know. "It is expulsion. "I wish you wouldn't do that.motor-car. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme." "Of course. I mean. watching it. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately. Only it _was_ sending me off. At once. Wain suspended tapping operations. It is not fitting." said Wyatt laconically. and resumed the thread of his discourse. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. "I am sorry. You will not go to school to-morrow. Tap like that." Mr. exceedingly. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack." continued Mr. sir. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. approvingly.

father."No. Wain were public property. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon. as an actual spectator of the drama. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. "Oh. He isn't coming to school again." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. here you are." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. . By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr. yes. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. but it failed to comfort him. I shoot off almost immediately. "What happened?" "We chatted. was for his team. Wyatt kicked off his slippers." he said. was in great request as an informant. Burgess came up." said Wyatt cheerfully." Mike was miserably silent. all amongst the ink and ledgers. or some rot. and began to undress." "What? When?" "He's left already." Burgess's first thought. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. as befitted a good cricket captain. "Buck up. Mike. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. "Anybody seen young--oh. he's got to leave.

" "All right. They met in the cloisters. withdrawn. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. one exception to the general rule. Hope he does. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. Not unless he comes to the dorm."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. Wyatt was his best friend. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. "All the same. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. anyway. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. without enthusiasm." agreed Mike. though!" he added after a pause. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. you see. "I say. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. "What rot for him!" "Beastly." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes. "Hullo. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . during the night. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. You'll play on Saturday. and he's taken him away from the school." "He'll find it rather a change. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising." said Mike. however. that's the part he bars most." continued Burgess. young Jackson. You know. Look here. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. As a matter of fact. his pal. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match." "I should like to say good-bye. I expect. last night after Neville-Smith's. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. Bob was the next to interview him. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. There was. Mike!" said Bob.

"What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. by the way. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. "I say. "It was all my fault. plunged in meditation. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. "Nothing much. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon." "Neville-Smith! Why. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. this wouldn't have happened. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale." said Mike. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. In extra on Saturday. That's all.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news. Bob. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval. way. Well. as far as I can see. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him. "Only that. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. Jackson. with a forced and grisly calm. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it." . You don't happen to have got sacked or anything. where Mike left him. "If it hadn't been for me." said Burgess. I don't know. "What's up?" asked Bob. Only our first. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded." "Oh. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. They walked on without further Wain's gate." he said at length.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven. "It was absolutely my fault. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. when the bell rang for the end of morning school.

He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine. And he can ride." Burgess grunted. from all accounts. They whacked the M. presumably on business. who believed in taking no chances. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. I should think. Like Mr. his father had gone over there for a visit. All these things seemed to show that Mr. as most other boys of his age would have been. So Mr. Wain's dressing-room." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. As a matter of fact. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. to start with."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. He's a jolly good shot. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. I know. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. for lack of anything better to say. "Very. Mike." "By Jove. He must be able to work it. He never chucked the show altogether. did he?" Mike. Mike was just putting on his pads. I've thought of something. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. that's to say. he had a partner.C. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. Spenlow. where countless sheep lived and had their being. the Argentine Republic. three years ago. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. . and once. "I wanted to see you. I may hold a catch for a change." said Bob. he'd jump at anything. Jolly hot team of M." "By Jove. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. made.C." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank.C. It's about Wyatt. well. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. Stronger than the one we drew with. too. I'll write to father to-night. If it comes off." "Oh. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers. or was being. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed.C. "I say. glad to be there again. Bob went on his way to the nets.

. These letters he would then stamp." His advent had apparently caused little sensation. and subsequently take in bundles to the . sir." "Everything?" "Yes. Sportsman?" "Yes. sir.locked from the outside on retiring to rest. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit. sir. but that.. Mr." "Play football?" "Yes. Wyatt?" "Yes. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager. sir." "H'm ." "H'm . you won't get any more of it now. but to the point. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield." "Cricketer?" "Yes. In any case he would buy him a lunch. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match. there was no reason why something should not be done for him.. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs. Racquets?" "Yes. Jackson's letter was short. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters. which had run as follows: "Mr. Wyatt's letter was longer. sir.. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability. He said that he hoped something could be managed.. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger. sir.. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer." "H'm . by a Beginner." After which a Mr. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast. Well.

except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. as a member of the office. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. inspecting the wicket with Mr. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. To do only averagely well. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch." wrote Wyatt. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M. It would just suit him. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting. if it got the school out of a tight place. Even twenty. if the sun comes out. I suppose. Spence. was not slow to recognise this fact. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure." Mr. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. "I should cook the accounts. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. Burgess?" . It was a day on which to win the toss. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently.C. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. by J. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius. It had stopped late at night. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. match. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. "Or even Wyatt. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. "I should win the toss to-day.' which is a sort of start. 'Hints for Young Criminals. Burgess. There were twelve colours given three years ago. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle." said Mr. would be as useless as not playing at all. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career.' So long. this. But it doesn't seem in my line." said Burgess. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. At eleven-thirty. as far as his chance of his first was concerned.C. Burgess. when the match was timed to begin. "Who will go on first with you. Still. and go in first. Spence. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. Wyatt." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. if I were you. "Just what I was thinking. sir. Mind you make a century. to be among the ruck. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. The Ripton match was a special event. Honours were heaped upon him.

"One consolation is." "I don't think a lot of that. "It's a nuisance too. "We'll go in first." "You'll put us in." "Heads. Mac. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance." "Well. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. I believe." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine. Plays racquets for them too. I don't know of him." "I know the chap. above all. They had been at the same private school. were old acquaintances. and comes in instead. "Certainly. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. On a dry. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. It's a hobby of mine. And. The other's yours." "Oh." said Burgess." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock." "I must win the toss."Who do you think. I think. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long. of the Bosanquet type. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball. This end. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads. it might have been all right. win the toss. He's a pretty useful chap all round. about our batting." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. that's a . I must tell the fellows to look out for it. Ellerby. I suppose?" "Yes--after us. though. well. He was crocked when they came here. I've lost the toss five times running. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip. He wasn't in the team last year. so I was bound to win to-day." "I should. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. Looks as if it were going away. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch." said Burgess ruefully." said Maclaine. "but I think we'll toss. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six." said Burgess. A boy called de Freece. the Ripton captain. You call." "Tails it is. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it.

In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. The sun. as also happened now. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. and was certain to get worse. as it did on this occasion. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. Maclaine. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. run out. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. Dashing tactics were laid aside. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. he was compelled to tread cautiously. The change worked. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. At sixty Ellerby. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. and let's get at you. The pitch had begun to play tricks. as it generally does. So Ripton went in to hit. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. but which did not always break. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. held it. The policy proved successful for a time. Another hour of play remained before lunch. Then . Burgess began to look happier. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. The score mounted rapidly. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. Burgess. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. seventy-four for three wickets. as he would want the field paved with it. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. but the score. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. They plodded on. Twenty came in ten minutes. Buck up and send some one in. They meant to force the game.comfort. gave place to Grant. but it means that wickets will fall. and Bob. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. which was now shining brightly.

and his one hit. they resent it. Every run was invaluable now. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. His record score. it was not a yorker. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. Just a ball or two to the last man. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. the ten minutes before lunch. and with it the luncheon interval. swiping at it with a bright smile.Ellerby. did what Burgess had failed to do. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. when Ellerby. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. it was not straight. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. found his leg-stump knocked back. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. and de Freece. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. but he had also a very accurate eye. A four and a three to de Freece. when the wicket is bad. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. came off with distressing frequency. And when he bowled a straight ball. medium-paced yorker. That period which is always so dangerous. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. a semicircular stroke. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. He had made twenty-eight. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. The last man had just gone to the wickets. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. as they walked . missed his second. the slow bowler. for the last ten minutes. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. he explained to Mike. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. and it will be their turn to bat. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. So far it was anybody's game. when a quarter to two arrived. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. The other batsman played out the over. who had gone on again instead of Grant. He bowled a straight. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over.

but it didn't.-b. "L. when the pavilion. rather than confidence that their best. It would have been a gentle canter for them.-w. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets." he said. Berry. stick a bat in the way. A grim determination to do their best. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true. and make for the pavilion. he said. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. But ordinary standards would not apply here. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand. You must look out for that. Hullo. On a bad wicket--well. For goodness sake. He breaks like sin all over the shop. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven. . "Morris is out." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. for this or any ground. hard condition." "Hear that. Berridge.-b." said Burgess helpfully. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. Berry? He doesn't always break. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. But Berridge survived the ordeal. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative. First ball. and not your legs. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out." said Burgess blankly. He thought it was all right. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. "Thought the thing was going to break. The tragedy started with the very first ball. Morris was the tenth case. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. would be anything record-breaking. "It's that googly man. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. if he doesn't look out. "That chap'll have Berry.-w. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket.

The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. He got up. if we can only stay in. He started to play forward. The voice of the scorer. Mike was silent and thoughtful. but this the next ball. Bob's out!. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. he isn't." said Ellerby. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. No. and the second tragedy occurred. "It's getting trickier every minute. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them.. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece." he said. but it was considerably better than one for two. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. He sent them down medium-pace. He was in after Bob. Bob was the next man in. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then. "The only thing is. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. Last man duck. The cloud began to settle again." Ellerby echoed the remark. and took off his blazer. stumped. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride.. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. we might have a chance. The last of the over had him in two minds. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. Ellerby took off his pads. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. The wicket'll get better. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. Ten for two was not good." . changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice.This brought Marsh to the batting end. and scoring a couple of twos off it. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. By George. jumping out to drive. "This is all right. broke it. Mike nodded. With the score Freece. he was smartly at thirty. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's. "One for two. He had then.

He was cool. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. When he had gone out to bat against the M. But now his feelings were different.C. 54. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed." "Bob's broken his egg.. There was no sense of individuality. "I'm going to shove you down one. you silly ass. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single." said Ellerby. as if it were some one else's. "That's the way I was had.. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. had fumbled the ball. The wicket-keeper. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here." said Ellerby. . as Ellerby had done. 5." said Ellerby. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. He came to where Mike was sitting. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied. "I shall go in next myself and swipe. and had nearly met the same fate. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. more by accident than by accurate timing. Oh. when. which was repeated. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. however. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. A howl of delight went up from the school. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school. the batsmen crossed. Mike." "All right. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist. I believe we might win yet. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. Berridge was out by a yard." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess." said Mike. was not conscious of any particular nervousness. 12. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed. The melancholy youth put up the figures. If only somebody would knock him off his length. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. "Good man. on the board. and try and knock that man de Freece off. Jackson. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke.. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run." said Mike. Every little helps. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite.C." he said.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. "Forty-one for four. _fortissimo_.

but this time off the off-stump. and hit it before it had time to break. and whipped in quickly. Mike had faced half-left. De Freece said nothing. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. . The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. And Mike took after Joe. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. Mike jumped out. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. apparently. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. or very little. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. Joe would be in his element. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball.-w. and not short enough to take liberties with. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. to do with actual health. It pitched slightly to leg. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. a comfortable three. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. The next ball was of the same length. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. The umpire shook his head. in school matches. considering his pace. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. as he settled himself to face the bowler.Fitness. finer players. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. He felt that he knew where he was now. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. Indeed. But something seemed to whisper to him. The ball hit his right pad. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. and stepped back. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. and he had smothered them.-b. It has nothing. that he was at the top of his batting form. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. They had been well pitched up. He knew what to do now. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l.

And. and de Freece's pet googly. the next man in. he lifted over the other boundary. For himself he had no fear now. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. or he's certain to get out.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. nor Grant. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. mainly by singles. He had an excellent style. His departure upset the scheme of things. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. and so. He might possibly get out off his next ball. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. Mike could see him licking his lips. . He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. He had made twenty-six. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. and the wicket was getting easier. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again." said Berridge. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. but he was uncertain. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. but he was full of that conviction. in the pavilion. thence to ninety. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. In the present case. But Mike did not get out. "Don't say that. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. was a promising rather than an effective bat.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic." "You ass. At a hundred and four. Practically they had only one. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. Grant and Devenish were bowlers." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. To-day he never looked like settling down. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. a half-volley to leg. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. "Sixty up. for neither Ashe. It was a long-hop on the off. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. the score mounted to eighty. He survived an over from de Freece. and made twenty-one. The last ball of the over. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. Henfrey. however. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. Apparently. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. that this was his day." said Ellerby. (Two years later. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. to a hundred. he made a lot of runs. There was nervousness written all over him. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen.

did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty." said Mike.. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end. but even so. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. . Mike took them. Could he go up to him and explain that he." shouted Grant. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. Another fraction of a second. he stopped it. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. and he would have been run out. The wicket was almost true again now. but this happened now. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account. Forty to win! A large order. taken up a moment later all round the ground. or we're done. Jackson. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in. and a school prefect to boot. The next over was doubly sensational. But it was going to be done. I shall get outed first ball. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. It rolled in the direction of third man. "Over. But the sixth was of a different kind. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. it all but got through Mike's defence. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. was well-meaning but erratic." he whispered." said the umpire. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end. "collar the bowling all you know. As it was. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty.He was not kept long in suspense. "Come on. A distant clapping from the pavilion. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at." "All right. The fast bowler. But he did not score.. The last ball of the over he mishit. and set his teeth. But each time luck was with him. and it was possible to take liberties. announced that he had reached his fifty. "For goodness sake.. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty.

rough luck on de Freece. He bowled rippingly. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. It was young Jackson. meeting Burgess in the pavilion. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . Grant looked embarrassed. The next moment the crisis was past. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. There were still seven runs between them and victory. Brother of the other one. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. A great stillness was over all the ground. Point and the slips crowded round." said Maclaine." continued he. and the bowling was not de Freece's. The school broke into one great howl of joy. The fifth curled round his bat. For four balls he baffled the attack. Mike's knees trembled." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. and touched the off-stump. I say. but determined. Mike had got the bowling. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. by the way?" "Eighty-three. A bail fell silently to the ground. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket." "The funny part of it is. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important." said Maclaine. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. It was an awe-inspiring moment. * * * * * "Good game. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. and rolled back down the pitch.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing.

"What does he say?" inquired Marjory. "Bushrangers. had settled down to serious work." said Mr." she shouted. Mrs. "Sorry I'm late. but expects to be fit again shortly." began Gladys Maud. Mike read on. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. in a victory for Marjory. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper. "There's a letter from Wyatt. who had duly secured the stakes. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep. referred to in a previous chapter. bush-ray." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. Mike. but was headed off. "Bush-ray. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. Mike's place was still empty. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. Jackson) had resulted. The Jacksons were breakfasting. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man. "I've had a letter from MacPherson." said Phyllis. "Buck up. including Gladys Maud. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee." He opened the letter and began to read." said Ella.It was a morning in the middle of September. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt. bush-ray. Jackson was reading letters. Mr. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies." added Phyllis. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. interested. "Bush-ray. conversationally. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock. "Is there?" said Mike. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres." explained Gladys Maud. The hour being nine-fifteen. The rest." "With a bushranger." . through the bread-and-milk." "I wish Mike would come and open it." said Marjory. "He gives no details. Jackson. He's been wounded in a duel.

The fact is we've been having a bust-up here. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. and go through that way. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. So this rotter. Hurt like sin afterwards. an Old Wykehamist. pulled out our revolvers. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. and I were dipping sheep close by. and coming back. so I shall have to stop. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. I thought he was killed at first. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. I say. Only potted him in the leg. Here you are.. This is what he says. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. which has crocked me for the time being. and dropped poor old Chester. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. proceeded to cut the fence. it was practically a bushranger. Jackson. We nipped on to a couple of horses.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. so excuse bad writing. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived.. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. Chester was unconscious. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. "No.. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder. and loosed off. so he came to us and told us what had happened. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there.. A chap called Chester." said Marjory. Jackson. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . which had fallen just by where I came down. I got going then. and tooled after him. he wanted to ride through our place. Well. and so it was. and his day's work was done. I picked it up. but it turned out it was only his leg. "Anyhow." said Phyllis. and missed him clean every time. That's the painful story. After a bit we overtook him. "I told you it was a duel."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. and it was any money on the Gaucho. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. Missed the first shot. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. He fired as we came up. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. a good chap who can't help being ugly." said Mike. It happened like this. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. and that's when the trouble began.. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. summing up. instead of shifting off..

the meal was nearly over. Mike. while Marjory. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents." . It's the first I've had from Appleby. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays." Mike seemed concerned. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention." said Marjory. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. jumping up as he entered. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her. but Mike was her favourite." she said. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. that's a comfort. as Mr. fetching and carrying for Mike. looked on in a detached sort of way. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. she would do it only as a favour. who had put her hair up a fortnight before." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. Mr. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table. taking his correspondence with him. Blake used to write when you were in his form. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end. But he was late. He looked up interested. Jackson had gone into the kitchen." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one." she said. "I say. Jackson had disappeared." "He didn't mean it really. "Your report came this morning. and did the thing thoroughly.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. as she always did. Mrs. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. When he came down on this particular morning. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you." "No. "I'm a bit late. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad. even for Joe. Father didn't say anything. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket. Mike." said Mike philosophically. She had adopted him at an early age. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope." Marjory was bustling about." "Have you? Thanks awfully. "Hullo. as usual. She was fond of her other brothers. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody. though for the others.

was delighted. He had always had the style. minor match type. and Mike was to reign in his stead. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. Master Mike. who treated his sons as companions. She was kept busy. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the . At night sometimes he would lie awake. It was early in the Easter holidays. but already he was beginning to find his form. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. it's a beastly responsibility. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two.C. Saunders. "Oh. Phyllis met him. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. Let's go and see." he said. Why." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. was not returning next term.C. "you'll make a century every match next term. As he was walking towards the house. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. He had filled out in three years. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report. I've been hunting for you. I wonder if he's out at the net now. Jackson was an understanding sort of man. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. Mr. indeed. He seems--" added Phyllis. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser. Everybody says you are. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out." "Saunders is a jolly good chap." was his muttered exclamation. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets." Mike's jaw fell slightly. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting."What ho!" interpolated Mike." Henfrey." "I wish I wasn't. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. "You _are_. appalled by the fear of losing his form." "What for?" "I don't know. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M. He liked the prospect. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. and now he had the strength as well. on the arrival of Mr." "Where?" "He's in the study. By the way. however. "in a beastly wax. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. Mike. father wants you. From time to time.

"your report. "'French bad.'" "We were doing Thucydides. but on several occasions. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering." "Here are Mr. Inattentive and idle. very poor. "I want to speak to you.'" quoted Mr. which he declines to use in the smallest degree. both in and out of school. "'His conduct. It was on this occasion that Mr. Jackson. is that my report. "Come in. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme. with a sort of sickly interest. not once. kicking the waste-paper basket.'" "It wasn't anything really. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French. . there had been something not unlike a typhoon. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump. scented a row in the offing." said his father. I say!" groaned the record-breaker.previous term. "I want you to listen to this report." "Oh. Jackson in measured tones." replied Mr. There followed an awkward silence. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. and Mr. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub." said Mr. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. therefore." "'Latin poor. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so. Book Two. Jackson was a man of his word. "It is. skilled in omens. father?" said Mike. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now." "'Mathematics bad." "Oh. Greek. that Jackson entered the study." Mike.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. what is more. Mike. Jackson.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. he paused.

"You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. but still blithely). Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. "I am sending you to Sedleigh." he said. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye." he said blankly. Mr. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. and there was an end of it. He understood cricket. Mike?" said Mr.' There is more to the same effect." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. He knew it would be useless. pure and simple. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. spectacled youth who did not enter . He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence. perhaps. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. Mr. Jackson was sorry for Mike." was his next remark. birds were twittering." Barlitt was the vicar's son. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. "I shall abide by what I said. and Mr. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. a silent. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. Mike said nothing. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. "It is not a large school. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole. Jackson. his father."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. when he made up his mind. Mike's point of view was plain to him. but it has one merit--boys work there. He understood him. and for that reason he said very little now. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. The tragedy had happened. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. He did not approve of it. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket." Mr." Mike's heart thumped. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. or their Eight to Bisley. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer.

Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's. thanks. "For the school. It's waiting here." "Right. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place." "Worse luck. And. Then he got out himself and looked about him. sir. seeing the name of the station. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. sir. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. sir. Jackson. and the colour of his hair. He thought. Mike nodded. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus. got up. George!" "I'll walk. Also the boots he wore. It's straight on up this road to the school." said Mike. but not much conversation had ensued. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. The future seemed wholly gloomy." said Mike frigidly. You can't miss it. "It's a goodish step. "Young gents at the school. It was such . so far from attempting to make the best of things." said the porter. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. "Mr." added Mr. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. and Mike. sir. sir." "Thank you. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. Barlitt's mind was massive. sir." "Here you are. and said. "So you're back from Moscow. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. pulled up again. Mike said nothing. for instance. sorrier for himself than ever. his appearance. bustling up. He hated the station. A sombre nod. sir. He disliked his voice.very largely into Mike's world. He walked off up the road. and the man who took his ticket. opened the door. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. Hi.

There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. Burgess. and was shown into a room lined with books. and had lost both the Ripton matches. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. and. Which was the bitter part of it." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. And now. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. This must be Sedleigh. Mike went to the front door. and the house-master appeared. but almost as good. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. who would be captain in his place. Outwood. on top of all this. Outwood. from the top of a hill. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. would be weak this year. He inquired for Mr. free bat on his day. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. He had never been in command.absolutely rotten luck. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. Strachan was a good. might make a century in an hour. too. "Jackson?" he said mildly. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. The football fifteen had been hopeless. It was soon after this that he caught sight. Outwood's was the middle one of these. the return by over sixty points. Enderby. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. Presently the door opened. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian." . About now. There were three houses in a row. if he survived a few overs. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. Wrykyn. now that he was no longer there. Outwood's. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. And as captain of cricket. but he was not to be depended upon. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. sir. at that. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. Now it might never be used. But it was not the same thing. and knocked. "Yes. Once he crossed a river. going in first.

and fixed it in his right eye." said Mike. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. I understand. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. Good-bye for the present. My name. thin youth. finding his bearings. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. I think you might like a cup of tea. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. A Nursery Garden in the Home. But this room was occupied. He strayed about. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. Ambrose. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. in Shropshire. very glad indeed. He spoke in a tired voice. yes. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays." he added pensively. standing quite free from the apse wall. his gloom visibly deepened. Jackson. That sort of idea. "is Smith. A very long. Quite so. You will find the matron in her room. It was a little hard. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. What's yours?" . near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. You come from Crofton. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. where they probably played hopscotch. good-bye. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. Personally. "Hullo. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. he spoke. was leaning against the mantelpiece. Bishop Geoffrey. sir?" "What? Yes. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. It will well repay a visit. with chamfered plinth. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. said he had not. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. Jackson. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. Quite so. then. Oh." said the immaculate one." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. "Take a seat. In many respects it is unique. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation." he said."I am very glad to see you. Jackson. As Mike entered. that's to say. All alone in a strange school. "Hullo.

I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. for choice. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike. I was superannuated last term." he resumed." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson. and see that I did not raise Cain. Sit down on yonder settee. Cp. I was sent to Eton. the Pride of the School. But what Eton loses. or simply Smith. I shall found a new dynasty." "For Eton. "it was not to be. the name Zbysco. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. "but I've only just arrived. "Let us start at the beginning. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. too. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. Sedleigh gains." "But why Sedleigh. before I start. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. But. "Are you the Bully. there's just one thing. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. "No. We now pass to my boyhood. At an early age. the P not being sounded. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. and I don't care for Smythe." said Mike. and got it. If you ever have occasion to write to me. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. everybody predicting a bright career for me. See? There are too many Smiths. "My infancy." "No?" said Mike. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. . so I don't know. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. See?" Mike said he saw." said Psmith solemnly." "Bad luck. When I was but a babe. By the way. then?" "Yes! Why." said Mike. yes. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't).

will you? I've just become a Socialist. You ought to be one. Outwood. There's an Archaeological Society in the school. Now tell me yours. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. run by him. The son of the vicar. dusting his right trouser-leg. It's a great scheme. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something. "You have heard my painful story. but a bit too thick for me. laddie. Comrade Jackson." "Wrykyn. The vicar told the curate."That was the man. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. Sheep that have gone astray. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years." ." "And thereby. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. Jawed about apses and things. we fall. His dislike for his new school was not diminished. A noble game." said Psmith. Bit off his nut. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. Cheer a little. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. together we may worry through. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. Divided. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. We must stick together." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. mark you. prowling about. To get off cricket. "hangs a tale. and so on. We are practically long-lost brothers. We are companions in misfortune. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it." "I am with you. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. He could almost have embraced Psmith. who told our vicar." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. You work for the equal distribution of property. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. who told my father. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. Lost lambs. It goes out on half-holidays. You won't mind my calling you Comrade. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday." said Psmith. There's a libel action in every sentence. who told our curate. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. And. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village.

" They went upstairs. hung on a nail. and straightening his tie." said Mike." said Psmith. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. This is practical Socialism. I suppose they have studies here." said Mike. You and I. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol." he said." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other. We will snare the elusive fossil together. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp." "It would take a lot to make me do that. two empty bookcases. A chap at Wrykyn. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. hand in hand." "Then let's beat up a study."I'm not going to play here. and get our names shoved down for the Society. and one not without its meed of comfort. and a looking-glass. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown. and do a bit on our own account. at any rate. looking out over the school grounds." said Psmith approvingly. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood. Let's go and look. "Stout fellow. and have a jolly good time as well. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter. There were a couple of deal tables. "'Tis well. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme. It was a biggish room. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native. We shall thus improve our minds. called Wyatt." "Not now. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. "We will. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. "This'll do us well." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. Psmith opened the first of these." he said." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. Above all. "is the exact programme. "Might have been made for us." . I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. we will go out of bounds. as it were. was one way of treating the situation. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. Psmith approved the resolve. We must stake out our claims." "Good idea.

if you want to be really useful. was rather a critic than an executant. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports. and a voice outside said. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. and begins to talk about himself. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. And now. Hullo. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. "Privacy." said Psmith sympathetically." said Psmith. Similarly. Do you think you could make a long arm. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. We make progress. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. sits down. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. I had several bright things to say on the subject." said Psmith. What's this. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. There are moments when one wants to be alone. could you. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times." "These school reports. We make progress. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary. That putrid calendar must come down." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith. somebody comes right in." . It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. though the idea was Psmith's. "are the very dickens. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. though. as he watched Mike light the Etna. "You couldn't make a long arm. "The weed."His misfortune. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs. A rattling at the handle followed. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. I wonder. It's got an Etna and various things in it. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks. He was full of ideas. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs." A heavy body had plunged against the door." said Mike. the first thing you know is. not ours. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard.

A stout fellow. freckled boy. Come in and join us. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. Homely in appearance. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. and screamed. "It's beastly cheek. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. a people that know not Spiller. but one of us. "What the dickens. I am Psmith." said Psmith. Spiller evaded the question." inquired the newcomer. Edwin!' And so. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). 'Edwin. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled. "you stayed on till the later train. "In this life. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible. "to restore our tissues after our journey. 'Edwin. 'Don't go. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly. you find strange faces in the familiar room. "It's beastly cheek." said Psmith. and. We keep open house. and said. that's what I call it. Your father held your hand and said huskily. practical order. It is unusual for people to go about the place . "You can't go about the place bagging studies." Psmith went to the table." said he. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours." "But we do. we Psmiths. perhaps. Comrade Spiller. deeply affected by his recital. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. and cheered himself with a sip of tea. Framed in the entrance was a smallish." said Psmith. it's beastly cheek." said Psmith. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea.' Too late! That is the bitter cry." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. But no. He went straight to the root of the matter. all might have been well. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups.Mike unlocked the door." he repeated. on arrival. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train. and flung it open." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. we must be prepared for every emergency. and this is my study. "Well. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been." "My name's Spiller. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. put up his eyeglass.

Spiller pink and determined. it's my study. so. He hummed lightly as he walked. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner." "We'll see what Outwood says about it.bagging studies. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said. let this be a lesson to you. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter. 'I couldn't." "Spiller's. "Ah. It was Simpson's last term. 'I wouldn't. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower. Mike sullen. and the other's the accelerator. He cannot cope with the situation." "Look here." he said. "All I know is. and we stopped dead. Psmith particularly debonair. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point. . you are unprepared. I am glad to see that you have already made friends. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way." The trio made their way to the Presence." said Psmith. The thing comes on you as a surprise. and Jackson. and Simpson's left.' Take the present case. Spiller.' he said. sir. But what of Spiller. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all. we know. 'Now we'll let her rip. Mr. Spiller.' So he stamped on the accelerator. I'm going to have it. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. Error! Ah. Spiller. and I'm next on the house list. We may as well all go together. the man of Logic. By no means a scaly project. As it is. One's the foot-brake. "And Smith. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once." said Psmith. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. "are you going to take? Spiller. of course." "Not an unsound scheme." Mr. and skidded into a ditch." "But what steps.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside.

while his own band. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday." "Spiller. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school. sir--" said Spiller. This is capital. very pleased indeed. "One moment. sir. A grand pursuit." "Not at all. "I understand. This enthusiasm is most capital. Archaeology fascinates me. I--er--in a measure look after it. Outwood beamed. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. sir. games that left him cold." said Psmith sadly. quite so. His colleague. sir. Downing. Boys came readily at his call. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. I am very pleased." "Ah. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging. Smith." "Jackson. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please. Cricket and football. Smith. Mr. Smith?" "Intensely. Mr." he said. never had any difficulty in finding support. "that accounts for it. appeared to be the main interest in their lives. "Yes. "His heart is the heart of a little child. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times." "And Jackson's. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. who presided over the School Fire Brigade. Most delighted." "Undoubtedly." Mr. if you were not too busy. not at all." "There is no vice in Spiller. sir. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band. Do you want to join." "Please." pursued Psmith earnestly." he said at last. sir--" began Spiller. though small. were in the main earnest. sir. We have a small Archaeological Society." . tolerantly. he is one of our oldest members. two miles from the school." said Psmith. "One moment. Is there anything----" "Please. Spiller. Spiller. "I am delighted. I will put down your name at once."Er--quite so." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. too!" Mr. Smith." said Psmith. Smith. sir." "Oh." "Please. sir--" said Spiller. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. sir. "Yes. "I have been unable to induce to join.

I come next after Simpson."We shall be there." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE . Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. "There is just one other matter. sir. very trying for a man of culture. Outwood. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means. Fight against it. of course. "This tendency to delay." "Yes. sir." he said. A very good idea. "Please. sir. sir. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday." "But. sir. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. Spiller. sir. sir. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. Spiller. "We should. Correct it." said Psmith. if you could spare the time." "Quite so. sir. sir. sir--" said Spiller. "One moment." shouted Spiller. Smith. Smith. Edwin. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. always be glad to see Spiller in our study. "is very. We will move our things in. You should have spoken before. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. An excellent arrangement." "Capital!" "Please. "is your besetting fault. Spiller. as they closed the door." "Thank you very much. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house. Smith. Spiller. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller." "All this sort of thing." He turned to Mr." "Certainly." said Psmith." said Mike. Quite so." "Quite so." "Thank you very much.

and we can lock that. with your permission." said Psmith. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories." he said. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. there is nothing he can deny us. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this." "The loss was mine." Mike was finishing his tea." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study. he would not have appreciated it properly." said Psmith courteously." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. and this time there followed a knocking. "The difficulty is." "_And_. but we can't stay all night. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis."There are few pleasures. Here we are in a stronghold. "We ought to have known each other before. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. We are as sons to him. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree. jam a chair against it. though. ." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man." "And jam a chair against it. face the future for awhile. This place would have been wasted on Spiller. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be. "We will now." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart. we're all right while we stick here. I mean." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. I don't like rows." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller." As they got up." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness. as you rightly remark. the door handle rattled again. Comrade Jackson. "He thinks of everything! You're the man. I say. but we must rout him out once more. "about when we leave this room. they can only get at us through the door. Smith. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once." he said with approval.

say."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's." "Sturdy common sense." said Psmith approvingly. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory." "How many _will_ there be. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. _I_ think Spiller's an ass. Do you happen to know of any snug little room. A light-haired youth with a cheerful." he explained. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room." said Psmith." "As I suspected." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful. "is cursing you like anything downstairs." said Psmith. "I just came up to have a look at you. "Let us parley with the man. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson." giggled Jellicoe." "Old Spiller. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it." Mike unlocked the door. for instance. "If you move a little to the left. with. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it." said Mike." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better. only it belongs to three . "He might get about half a dozen." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together." sighed Psmith. then?" asked Mike." said Psmith. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that." said Psmith. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike. not more." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour. in his practical way. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe.

" "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. sir----" "Not at all. Things." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. Better leave the door open." Mr. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help." "I believe in the equal distribution of property. I like to see it--I like to see it. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. Smith. come in. as the messenger departed." said Psmith." "We were wondering. "That door. the others waited outside. but shall be delighted to see him up here. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down." he said." This time it was a small boy. crowding . Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. Jellicoe and myself. it will save trouble. Ah." "And we can have the room." said Psmith." "And now. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. as they returned to the study. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. "has sprung up between Jackson. I think. Smith?" he said.chaps. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim." he said." "You make friends easily. Smith. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down. sir. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it. if you would have any objection to Jackson. "We must apologise for disturbing you. "are beginning to move. "Yes. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. and some other chaps. Comrade Spiller. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study. The handle began to revolve again.

slammed the door and locked it. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study. Mike. and then to stand by for the next attack." said Spiller. but it was needless. however. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. the enemy gave back. "Who was our guest?" he asked. The dogs of war are now loose. if you don't." cried Spiller suddenly. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. the door. instead of resisting. Jellicoe giggled in the background. For a moment the doorway was blocked. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. turning after re-locking the door. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson. and Mike. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. "Robinson." said Jellicoe. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. "Come on. and the handle. His was a simple and appreciative mind. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe. "A neat piece of work." said Mike. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson." A heavy body crashed against the door." "You'll get it hot. This time. was it? Well. you chaps. I say. "We must act. "They'll have it the doorway. swung open. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below. Mike jumped to help. the captive was already on the window-sill. As Mike arrived. always. stepping into the room again. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. ." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. was just in time to see Psmith. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned." "We'll risk it. Comrade Spiller. but Mike had been watching." said Psmith approvingly. the first shot has been fired. "Look here.

" "Leave us." said Jellicoe. but it can't go on. they were first out of the room. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term. I shouldn't think." "They won't do anything till after tea. Well. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently. When they had been in the study a few moments.Somebody hammered on the door. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once. of course. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound. Spiller." said Mike. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. "There's no harm in going out." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. Spiller's face was crimson. and have it out?" said Mike." "This. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. "is exciting." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy. "we shall have to go now." said Mike. . and see what happens. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in. Jellicoe knocked at the door. you know." he said." The passage was empty when they opened the door. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory." said Psmith. we will play the fixture on our own ground. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night. we would be alone. "No. but Psmith was in his element. "You'd better come out. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time. leaning against the mantelpiece." Mike followed the advice. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. "Tea. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. you'll only get it hotter if you don't. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. nip upstairs as quickly as you can." A bell rang in the distance. It read: "Directly this is over.

but otherwise. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether. therefore. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. _ne pas_. And now. he'll simply sit tight. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. that human encyclopaedia. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started. "the matter of noise. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. well-conducted establishment. "And touching." said Psmith placidly. and disappeared again. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage. As to the time when an attack might be expected." said Psmith." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson. Shall we be moving?" Mr." said Mike. We shall be glad of his moral support. We often rag half the night and nothing happens."Quite right. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous. they rag him. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven." "Then I think. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful. where Robinson also had a bed. as predicted by Jellicoe. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime. Mr. It was probable." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter. He never hears anything." said Psmith." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all. retiring at ten. deposed that Spiller." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. closing the door." said Jellicoe. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room. "only he won't. .

and a slight giggle. Napoleon would have done that. If they have no candle. showed that Jellicoe. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. Psmith surveyed the result with approval." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. I always ask myself on these occasions. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. too. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. especially if. Comrade Jackson. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. as on this occasion. which is close to the door. "Dashed neat!" he said. Mike was tired after his journey. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. . waiting for him. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. had heard the noise. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. There was a creaking sound. He would then----" "I tell you what. but far otherwise. directly he heard the door-handle turned. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. If they have. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. "we will retire to our posts and wait. silence is essential. I have evolved the following plan of action. There were three steps leading down to it. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. too. listening. Comrade Jellicoe. "These humane preparations being concluded." said Psmith. they may wait at the top of the steps. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door." said Mike. succeeded by a series of deep breaths."How about that door?" said Mike. Subject to your approval.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

Comrade Outwood loves us. both in manner and appearance." He stumped off." sighed Psmith. sir. not wandering at large about the country. It gets him into idle. "If you choose to waste your time. I was referring to the principle of the thing. looking after him." said Psmith." "At any rate." "Good job. above all. probably smoking and going into low public-houses. the better. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. "I saw Adair speaking to you. Downing vehemently." "On archaeology. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. A short. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff. "Now _he's_ cross. I like every new boy to begin at once. nothing else. Scarcely had he gone. I suppose I can't hinder you. "I don't like it. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here." Adair turned. "I was not alluding to you in particular.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees. sir. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance. a keen school. sir. we went singing about the house. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. I fear." said Psmith. I want every boy to be keen." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys. The more new blood we have. with fervour. We want keenness here. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys. too." said Mr." said Psmith. loafing habits. sir." Mr. But in my opinion it is foolery." "We are. sir. to an excitable bullfinch. I tell you I don't like it. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. and walked on. When we heard that there was a society here. the Archaeological Society here. We are. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket. shaking his head. I suppose you will both play. Let's go on and see what sort . Outwood last night." "A very wild lot. Archaeology is a passion with us." "I never loaf. eh?" It was a master. "Excellent.

and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson. There were times. and Milton. the head of Outwood's. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. Mike would have placed above him. that swash-buckling pair. Adair. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. in his three years' experience of the school. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. and Stone was a good slow bowler. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. It couldn't be done. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. And now he positively ached for a game. but there were some quite capable men. Any sort of a game. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. after watching behind the nets once or twice. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. and Wyatt. He did not repeat the experiment. by the law of averages. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. to begin with. It was on a Thursday afternoon. The batting was not so good. was a mild. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. Lead me to the nearest net. mostly in Downing's house. "I _will_ be good. when the sun shone. Altogether. What made it worse was that he saw. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. Barnes. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. He was not a Burgess. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. Stone and Robinson themselves. was a very good bowler indeed. Numbers do not make good cricket. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting. There were other exponents of the game. after . He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. were both fair batsmen." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr.

Adair was taking off his pads after his Psmith approached Mike. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. He patronised fossils. He was embarrassed and nervous. seemed to enjoy them hugely. "This net. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. He looked up. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. Let us find some shady nook where a . More abruptly this time. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. Mike repeated his request. and kept them by his aide. as he sat there watching. Mike. "This is the first eleven net. "by the docility of our demeanour. but patronising. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. he would have patronised that." he said. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. He went up to Adair. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. and brood apart for awhile. Psmith. give me the pip. could stand it no longer. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. and he patronised ruins." "Over there" was the end net." said Adair coldly." it may be observed. "What?" he said. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. for Mr. "Go in after Lodge over there. He was amiable. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. Mr. Roman camps. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. to be absolutely accurate. and was trying not to show it. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. This is the real cricket scent. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. was the first eleven net. The day was warm. "Having inspired confidence. let us slip away. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. Mike walked away without a word. from increased embarrassment. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng.

I rather think I'll go to sleep. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. dancing in among my . and then. Mike liked dogs. Looking back. "and no farther. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. on acquaintance. In fact. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. he got up. and. above all. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. and listen to the music of the brook." And Psmith. "I was just having a look round." said Psmith." Mike. At the further end there was a brook. and trusted to speed to save him. and they strolled away down the hill. hitching up the knees of his trousers. jumped the brook." he may lie on his back for a bit. He was a short. Mine are like some furrowed field. offered no opposition. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. In passing. Call me in about an hour. He came back to where the man was standing." "The dickens you--Why. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. We will rest here awhile. finding this a little dull. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. but he could not place him. Comrade Jackson. "Thus far. broad young man with a fair moustache. and closed his eyes. In the same situation a few years before. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action. Their departure had passed unnoticed. lay down. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. Mike would have carried on. He was too late. for the Free Foresters last summer. Mike sat on for a few minutes. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. and began to explore the wood on the other side. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. they always liked him. this looks a likely spot. I can tell you. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. "A fatiguing pursuit. Ah. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. and sitting down. unless you have anything important to say. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. and began to bark vigorously at him. "I played against you. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it." said Psmith. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. "And.

By Jove. You made fifty-eight not out. There's a sign-post where you turn off. Very keen. It's just off the London road. "Only village. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about." "I'll lend you everything. only cover dropped it. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket. you know." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. "So. if you want me to. I'll tell you how it is. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away." "Thanks." "That's all right. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked. You're Prendergast." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies." "You ought to have had me second ball." said Mike. By the way. turning to the subject next his heart. I'm simply dying for a game. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. but no great shakes. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now." "I'll give you all you want. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. but I could nip back. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. I say. "I hang out down here. * * * * * . We all start out together. Look here. He began to talk about himself." "I'm frightfully sorry. you see." And he told how matters stood with him." he concluded.nesting pheasants." "I'll play on a rockery. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front. "Any Wednesday or Saturday. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is.

Mr. will you? I don't want it to get about. As time went on. punctuated at intervals by crises. Jackson. Downing. "I'm going to play cricket. life can never be entirely grey. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. pompous. It was not Wrykyn. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. indeed. and Mr. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. on being awakened and told the news." * * * * * That Saturday. M. To Mr. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. Downing. I say." "My lips are sealed. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. don't tell a soul. Mike began. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. but it was a very decent substitute. If you like the game. I think I'll come and watch you. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . Downing was all that a master ought not to be. sleepily. Downing. for a village near here. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. to enjoy himself. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. fussy. Downing's special care. never an easy form-master to get on with. Mr. It was. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. and it grew with further acquaintance. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. though he would not have admitted it. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. To Mike." One of the most acute of these crises. Cricket I dislike. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. and the most important. employed doing "over-time. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade."You're going to what?" asked Psmith.

and a particular friend of Mike's. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. a tenor voice. or Downing. At its head was Mr. Under them were the rank and file. with green stripes. He was a large. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw." Red. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. Outwood. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. had joined young and worked their way up. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. short for Sampson. Downing pondered "Red. Stone. light-hearted dog with a white coat. The Brigade was carefully organised. To-day they were in very fair form. of the School House. We will now proceed to the painful details.esteem of Mr. was the Sedleigh colour. He had long legs. Stone and Robinson. Downing. sir. under him was a captain. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. Downing. and under the captain a vice-captain. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. Sammy. the tongue of an ant-eater. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. To show a keenness for cricket was good. with a thin green stripe. Downing's form-room. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace." . and was apparently made of india-rubber. Downing had closed the minute-book. The rest were entirely frivolous. These two officials were those sportive allies. about thirty in all. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. held up his hand. much in request during French lessons. of Outwood's house. As soon as Mr. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. an engaging expression. a sort of high priest. "One moment. sir?" asked Stone. Wilson?" "Please. who. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. sir. "Well. The proceedings always began in the same way. spirit. "Shall I put it to the vote. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. Wilson. In passing. Sammy was the other. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. who looked on the Brigade in the right. Downing.

out of the question. perfectly preposterous." "Oo-oo-oo-oo." A scuffling of feet." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. Downing banged on his desk. the danger!" "Please. sir. of course. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please. get back to your place." said Stone. sir. Stone." "Please. sir." "Please. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man. sit down--Wilson. sir. "Silence!" "Then. and the meeting had divided. We cannot plunge into needless expense. sir-r-r!" "But. Wilson?" "Please. those against it to the right." . sir." said Robinson. "Sit down!" he said. sir. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. Stone. sir. Well. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question. sir. please. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. "I don't think my people would be pleased. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. of course. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads. Mr. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. Downing rapped irritably on his desk. The whole strength of the company: "Please. sir. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. listen to me. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. Mr. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive.

I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle. I want you boys above all to be keen. sir. "A bird. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth." A pained "OO-oo-oo. And. We must have keenness. sir. no." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. Downing." "What _sort_ of noise. "May I fetch a book from my desk. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. The muffled cries grew more distinct. sir-r-r. sir. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. sir?" inquired Mike. sir?" said a voice "off. sir?" asked Mike. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. "Our Wilson is facetious. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. I think. Wilson. He was not alone. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr." as he reached the door." he said." said Stone helpfully. Mr. _please_. Downing. as many Wrykynians . There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in. "Very well--be quick. "Noise. leave the room!" "Sir." was cut off by the closing door. Downing smiled a wry smile. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice. sir!" "This moment. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. "Sir." said Robinson." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr. Jackson. "It's outside the door. mingled with cries half-suppressed. I'm not making a whining noise." he remarked frostily. Downing. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. Wilson!" "Yes. there must be less of this flippancy. sir? No. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. "do me one hundred lines. "I think it's something outside the window. sir?" asked Mike. we are busy. Those near enough to see.Mr. puzzled.

the same! Go to your seat. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. What are you doing. "They do sometimes. go quietly from the room. among the ruins barking triumphantly. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. others flung books. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation." "Or somebody's boots. Vincent. Downing. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. bustling scene. like Marius. It is a curious whining noise. "to imitate the noise. threats. Downing's desk resembled thunder. all of you. Downing shot out orders. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks." said Mr. _Quietly_. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that." added Robinson." Crash! . Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. The banging on Mr. rising from his place. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. Mr. sir. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. you will be severely punished. sir. remain. sit down! Donovan. sir. "A rat!" shouted Robinson. all shouted. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away. sir?" bellowed the unseen one. "I do not propose." said the invisible Wilson. Come in." "They are mowing the cricket field. "Stone. "Perhaps that's it. I said. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. It was a stirring. Mr. if you do not sit down. Chaos reigned. Jackson and Wilson.had asked before him." put in Stone. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks." "Yes. Henderson. Some leaped on to forms. Downing acidly. and was now standing." "It may be one of the desks squeaking.

I fear. We are a keen school. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. everybody. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him. and he came in after the rat. sir. Mike the dog. Downing walked out of the room. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. "One hundred lines. Also he kept wicket for the school. frivolous at times. Jackson. Wilson?" "Please. Mr. Jackson." said Mike." The meeting dispersed. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. as one who tells of strange things." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. but nevertheless a member." It was plain to Mr. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines." he said. and had refused to play cricket. and paid very little for it. so I came in----" "And by a fluke. "Jackson and Wilson. Jackson. That will do. Mr. "Well. too. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. sir. come here. I had to let him go. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. Go quietly from the room." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. Wilson had supplied the rat." "I tried to collar him." said Wilson. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. sir. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance."Wolferstan." And Mr. but Mr. but when you told me to come in. it was true. "You may go. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. Downing turned to Mike. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. Wilson. so he came in.

" Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. Stone beamed. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. I'm in a beastly hole. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. he did. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. so don't be shy about paying it back. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. Jellicoe came into the room. after the Sammy incident. "I say." said Mike. Mike's heart warmed to them. it may be stated at once. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. I do happen to have a quid. "As a matter of fact. done with. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. The fact is. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. (Which.They say misfortunes never come singly. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. and welcomed the intrusion. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody." "Oh. sorry. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . "You're a sportsman. and. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. if you like. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. and got up. he would be practically penniless for weeks. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. by return of post. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. He felt that he. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. as a matter of fact. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. contemporary with Julius Caesar. the return match. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. But it's about all I have got. He was in warlike mood. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex." said Robinson.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. There was. Robinson on the table. You can freeze on to it. forgotten. They sat down. Mike put down his pen. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. asked for the loan of a sovereign. without preamble. Robinson was laughing. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. they should have it. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe.

and then they usually sober down. They were useful at cricket. If you know one end of a bat from the other. and began to get out the tea-things. "Well. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement. loud and boisterous. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. As for Mike. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. "are a rag. you could get into some sort of a team. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community. and a vast store of animal spirits. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket. Winifred's" brand. My pater took me away. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned." "'We are. above all. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. They go about. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. he now found them pleasant company. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. "Those Fire Brigade meetings." said Mike. a keen school. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings." . He got a hundred lines." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. Masters were rather afraid of them. and you never get more than a hundred lines. small and large." "Don't you!" said Mike. "I got Saturday afternoon. As to the kind of adventure.'" quoted Stone. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. "Were you sacked?" "No. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement." said Stone. They were absolutely free from brain. You can do what you like. They had a certain amount of muscle. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished.public school.

"Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running. yes. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. I play for a village near here. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. and the others?" "Brother." said Stone. "I've got an idea." "What!" "Well. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. I say." "Adair sticks on side. surely?" "This isn't a real house match. if I'd stopped on. My word. "Why. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove." said Mike. You _must_ play."Wrykyn?" said Robinson. We're playing Downing's. and I should have been captain this year." "Masters don't play in house matches." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. W. There are always house matches. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup." said Stone. do play. "I did." agreed Robinson. "Why. Stone broke the silence. and knock the cover off him. Stone gaped. look here. I was in the team three years. "Enough for six. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. "By Jove. Place called Little Borlock." . why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. I say." said Robinson. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten. but they always have it in the fourth week. Only a friendly. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is. You don't get ordered about by Adair. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day." "Think of the rag. for a start. It's nowhere near the middle of the term.

"I say. "I say. I was in the team. Then footsteps returning down the passage. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. Downing assumed it. I mean. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. and when. but to Mr. and make him alter it. Barnes appeared. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket." he said." said Mike." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer." "Yes." he said. Mike was not a genuine convert. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. JACKSON. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M. on his face the look of one who has seen visions. Most leap at the opportunity. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. ." said Mike. Jackson. He studied his _Wisden_. quite unexpectedly. then. Mr. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door. It was so in Mike's case. Downing he had the outward aspect of one. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. "The list isn't up yet. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. "Are you the M. "Thanks awfully." They dashed out of the room. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. and a murmur of excited conversation."But the team's full. THEN. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag.

We are essentially versatile. "We are. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. working really hard. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. timidly jubilant. "What!" he cried." "In our house. Downing. Your enthusiasm has bounds. on the cricket field. 2 manner--the playful. contrives to get an innings in a game. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. who was with Mike." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. the archaeologist of yesterday." "Indeed. becomes the cricketer of to-day. It was a good wicket. sir. competition is fierce. except for the creases. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith." he said. Mike. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness. * * * * * Barnes. in the way he took . Drones are not welcomed by us. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. had naturally selected the best for his own match. as captain of cricket. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type." said Psmith earnestly. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. It is the right spirit. where the nervous new boy. Mike saw. Smith? You are not playing yourself. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. Adair. with a kind of mild surprise. above all.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. "a keen house. Downing's No. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. "I like to see it. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. Jackson. With Mike it was different. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. sir. I notice. sir. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. and which never failed to ruffle Mr.

and he knew that he was good. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. two long steps. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. The last ball he turned to leg for a single." said Mr. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. He took two short steps. "Get to them. as the ball came . Mike slammed it back. Jenkins. was billed to break from leg. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. but the programme was subject to alterations. He had got a sight of the ball now. The first over was a maiden. The ball. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. when delivered. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. Mr. took three more short steps. but it stopped as Mr. A half-volley this time. The fieldsmen changed over. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. Mike took guard. slow. they were disappointed.guard. and. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. and dashed up against the rails. This time the hope was fulfilled. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. Mike started cautiously. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. Mike went out at it. and mid-on. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. as several of the other games had not yet begun. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. Downing irritably. Downing's slows. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. and off the wicket on the on-side. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. six dangerous balls beautifully played. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. failed to stop it. in his stand at the wickets. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. gave a jump. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. The ball was well up. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. and ended with a combination of step and jump.

by three wides. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. please. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. there was a strong probability that Mr. Mike had then made a hundred and three. uttered with painful distinctness the words. Jenkins. and bowling well. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. and then retired moodily to cover-point. if you can manage it. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. Downing. sat on the splice like a limpet. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. Scared by this escape." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. Mr. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. waited in position for number four. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. in addition. Downing bowled one more over. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. The expected happened.back from the boundary. . Adair came up. one is inclined to be abrupt. Then he looked up." "Sir. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. And a shrill small voice. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. without the slightest success. Downing would pitch his next ball short. and. and Mike. and the total of his side. in Adair's fifth over. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. it is usually as well to be batting. offering no more chances. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. where. By the time the over was finished. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. "Get to them. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. The third ball was a slow long-hop. This happened now with Mr.

having got Downing's up a tree. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. I suppose?" "Not a bit. "Above it. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. "Great Scott. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. There's a difference. "I never saw such a chump. Mr. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. Of all masters. but also--which was rather unfair--his house. Not up to it. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. am I?" said Mike. "Declare!" said Robinson. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . The result was that not only he himself. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster. "No. I said I wasn't going to play here. "That's just the gay idea." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. Three years. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. As a matter of fact." Adair was silent for a moment. and the school noticed it. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. Downing. Barnes's remark that he supposed. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals."I didn't say anything of the kind. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. "Sick! I should think they would. "I'm not keeping you." said Stone. won't they?" suggested Barnes. thanks. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. too. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. was met with a storm of opposition." There was another pause." There was a silence. politely.

and Stone came out. At four o'clock. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. mercifully. Nor will Robinson. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6." said Stone with a wide grin. Time. or when one is out without one's gun. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams.can. Barnes. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives." said Robinson. But still the first-wicket stand continued. fortified by food and rest." "Well. that directly he had topped his second century. "Only you know they're rather sick already. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully." said Barnes unhappily." "Don't you worry about that. I swear I won't field. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . Bowlers came and went. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. And the rest. I won't then. the small change. Play was resumed at 2. passing in the road. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. Games had frequently been one-sided. proceeded to get to business once more." "Rather not. amidst applause. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. it was assumed by the field. was bowling really well. In no previous Sedleigh match. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future." "So do I. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. These are the things which mark epochs. and that is what happened now. and Mike. in one of which a horse. Mr. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. each weirder and more futile than the last. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. tried their luck. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history.15. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. greatly daring. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. Downing took a couple more overs. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. playing himself in again. after a full day's play. The first-change pair are poor. "If you declare. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. if I can get it. going in first early in the morning. Besides. Adair.30.

but his score. "I think Barnes must have left the field. as was only natural. Hassall. _c_.) A grey dismay settled on the field... sir. J. The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic. and Stone.way.. 33 M.. _b_. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type. But the next ball was bowled...... sir. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force... and still Barnes made no sign... in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience.." snapped Mr.. He had an unorthodox style.." "He's very touchy." "Declare! Sir.. There was no reply. DOWNING'S _Outwood's. You must declare your innings closed. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something... as who should say. 277 W." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion. there was on view. nearly weeping with pure joy. Lobs were being tried." "It is perfect foolery. First innings. was mounting steadily... (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was.. capital. a week later. sir. P. not out... And now let's start _our_ innings..." Mr. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's. not out." "This is absurd. "This is foolery.. Downing walked moodily to his place. "Capital. "Barnes!" "Please. Barnes. and the next over.. Hammond.. but an excellent eye.." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl.. we can't unless Barnes does.. a slip of paper.. Stone. and the next after that.. "Barnes!" he called. 124 .." "Absurd....... just above the mantelpiece. Jackson.. Downing. The game has become a farce. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_.." said Stone.. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain._ J. as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. too.... Mike's pace had become slower. as a matter of fact.

felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again... and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries...." murmured Mike. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket.. Comrade Jellicoe and..Extras..... Downing." "He doesn't deserve to.. slipping his little hand in mine. here and there. discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated... When all ringing with song and merriment. You will probably get sacked. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe. But your performance was cruelty to animals.. leaning against the mantelpiece. touched me This interested Mike.... On the other hand... "In theory.... as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out. 37 ----Total (for one wicket). could have been the Petted Hero. not to mention three wides. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind. I should say that. and Mike. In fact. CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night.. is. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day. it's worth it." he said.." "I don't care.. But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue. 471 Downing's did not bat... would have made Job foam at the mouth. shifting his aching limbs in the chair." said he. "In an ordinary way.. Mike. from what I have seen of our bright little friend... fagged as he was. for three quid. "the the place was crept to my side. Twenty-eight off one over... One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects. if he had cared to take the part. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot. Psmith. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little." . he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you. in a small way... I suppose.

but he could not sleep. Well. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. he'll pay me back a bit. I'm stiff all over. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. He wanted four. nothing. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe." There was a creaking. I can't get to sleep. He uttered no word for quite three minutes. wrapped in gloom. as the best substitute for sleep. "Are you asleep." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card. . His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. Jackson!" he said. Psmith chatted for general. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. I'm pretty well cleaned out. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. He felt very hot and uncomfortable. It was done on the correspondence system. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. and then dropped gently off."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. "Yes?" "Have you--oh." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. when he's collected enough for his needs." "Nor can I. the various points of his innings that day." * * * * * a log. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived. "I say. who appeared to be to the conversation." Silence again. clinking sovereigns. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind. I hope.

and you'd drive up to the house. Jackson? I say." Mike dozed off again. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. Then he spoke again. and you'd go in." "Yes. I meant. "Hullo?" he said. "Nobody."Jackson." The bed creaked." "Happen when?" "When you got home. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. So would mine." "Hullo?" "I say. or to Australia. and wait. or something. and the servant would open the door. Especially my pater." "Everybody's would." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. Why?" "Oh. They might all be out. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. you know. I suppose. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. But if you were. and presently you'd hear them come in." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. and all that. I expect. After being sacked. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say. and then you'd have to hang about. Have you got any sisters. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. My sister would be jolly sick. as it were. My mater would be sick. and you'd go out into the passage. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon. I don't know. in order to give verisimilitude. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked. "My pater would be frightfully sick. And then you'd be sent into a bank. He was not really listening. too.

Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. He had some virtues and a good many defects. where he was a natural genius."Me--Jellicoe. already looking about him for further loans." "Any what?" "Sisters. I asked if you'd got any. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. though people whom he liked . He changed the subject. of other members of English public schools. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before. "I say. look out." "Any _what_?" "Sisters. "Do _what_?" "I say. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. He was as obstinate as a mule." Mike pondered." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. You'll wake Smith. he was just ordinary. But it's jolly serious. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. He resembled ninety per cent. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say. This thing was too much. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon. Except on the cricket field. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure. Was it a hobby." "Whose sisters?" "Yours." said Jellicoe eagerly. do you?" "What!" cried Mike.

he was never put off by discomfort or risk. who had a sensitive ear. To begin with. It was a wrench. there was the interview with Mr. Downing was a curious man in many ways. As Psmith had said. in addition. In addition to this. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. one good quality without any defect to balance it. in his childhood. . if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. He was rigidly truthful. he had never felt stiffer in his life. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. Bob's postal order. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. Downing and his house realised this. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. he was in detention. The great match had not been an ordinary match. but. and had. Where it was a case of saving a friend. which made the matter worse. And Mr. Yesterday's performance. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. The thought depressed him. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. Young blood had been shed overnight. He had. till Psmith. Downing to come. It was a particularly fine day. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat.could do as they pleased with him. Mr. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. And when he set himself to do this. which had arrived that evening. stood in a class by itself. That would probably be unpleasant. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. He was always ready to help people. Finally. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. He was good-natured as a general thing. Mr. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. however. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. it had to be done. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. where the issue concerned only himself. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive.

"No. "You are surrounded. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. sir. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. Downing.Mr. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. the user of it must be met half-way. no. Far too commonplace!" Mr. since the glorious day when Dunster. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. Macpherson. When a master has got his knife into a boy. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. at sea. I have spoken of this before. the speaker lost his inspiration. Just as. sir. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. You must act a lie. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. he was perfectly right." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. It would be too commonplace altogether. in their experience of the orator. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. That is to say." "Well. he began in a sarcastic strain. So Mr. of necessity. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. And. you must conceal your capabilities. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. Which Mike. No. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back." concluded Mr. the skipper. sir. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir. that prince of raggers. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . did with much success. that would not be dramatic enough for you." "Please. which was as a suit of mail against satire. works it off on the boy. Mike. Mr. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's. more elusive. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. in the excitement of this side-issue. Downing came down from the heights with a run. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. when he has trouble with the crew. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. For sarcasm to be effective. Downing laughed bitterly. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. As events turned out. By the time he had reached his peroration. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress.

" said Dunster. Dunster. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang." he groaned." "Awfully sorry. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. The average person. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. man. "I shall have to be going in. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. "Awfully sorry. "or I'd have helped you over. a long youth. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon." said Mike. crouches down and trusts to luck. Jellicoe hopping. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. . "slamming about like that. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. zeal outrunning discretion. on hearing the shout. But I did the pitch. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude. "Silly ass. puts his hands over his skull. is not a little confusing. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. Jellicoe was cheerful. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. he prodded himself too energetically. as they crossed the field. uttering sharp howls whenever. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion. The bright-blazered youth walked up. you know. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs." said Mike." "It's swelling up rather. To their left. and rather embarrassingly grateful. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together." "I'll give you a hand. Mike had strolled out by himself. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips.

The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. and when you have finished those. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. Is anything irritating you?" he added. Before he got there he heard his name called. as he walked to the cricket field. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano." said the animal delineator." . but Comrade Dunster has broached him to." "I heard about yesterday." said Psmith. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village. apply again. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon. felt very much behind the times. "were at a private school together. "because Jellicoe wants to see you." "Alas. I notice. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's. faithful below he did his duty. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed." said Dunster. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling. Comrade Jackson. fondling the beginnings of his moustache. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster. Well hit. pained. man. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday. Mike." said Dunster. Restore your tissues. "more." sighed Psmith. the darling of the crew. The fifth ball bowled a man. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster." "Old Smith and I. Hullo! another man out. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind. Dunster gave dawg. "You needn't be a funny ass. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest. "Return of the exile. "More." said Psmith. and turning. I'd no idea I should find him here. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. Have a cherry?--take one or two." said Dunster." stirring sight when we met. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world. Mike made his way towards the pavilion. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever.

"What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now.C. "it's too late. I suppose." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" . Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted. man." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike." "Don't dream of moving. it'll keep till tea-time." said Psmith. not so much physical as mental. at last." said Psmith to Mike." said Jellicoe gloomily. "I hadn't heard. I shall get sacked."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball. where he found the injured one in a parlous state. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe. the sun was in my eyes. do you?" he said. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room.C. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. I need some one to listen when I talk. Hamlet had got it. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat. "I say. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him. I like to feel that I am doing good." "I shall count the minutes. Soliloquy is a knack. he felt disinclined for exertion. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him." said Psmith. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse. but probably only after years of patient practice. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days." "Has he?" said Psmith. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. "Oh! chuck it. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory. "I mean. Mike stretched himself." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster. Personally. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now.

"Oh. Barley filled the post."It's about that money. "I know what I'll do--it's all right." Jellicoe sat up. has its comic man." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes." "It doesn't matter. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag." "I say. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught. Every village team. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr." "He's the chap I owe the money to. it can. who looked ." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day. "it can't be helped. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. I'll get out of the house after lights-out. "I say. it's frightfully decent of you. it's as easy as anything. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked. so I couldn't move." said Jellicoe miserably. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. hang it!" he said. stout man." "I say. do you think you could. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here." said Mike." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well." "What absolute rot!" "But. only I got crocked. he was the wag of the village team." "Yes. look here." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol. with a red and cheerful face. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up. are you certain----" "I shall be all right. called Lower Borlock. He was a large. "I'm awfully sorry. for some mysterious reason.

another. and if Jellicoe owed it. and be full of the milk he was quite different.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. chuck it!" said Mike. Besides. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. but I had a key made to fit it last summer." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it. I won't tell him." he said." said Jellicoe. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness. but it did not occur to him to ask. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. which was unfortunate." "All right. He took the envelope containing the money without question. "You can manage that. Probably in business hours After all. "if I can get into the shed. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it. five pounds is a large sum of money. there was nothing strange in Mr." "I say. I----" "Oh. "it's locked up at night. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business. I think. "I shall bike there. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings." "I'll get it from him. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done.

he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. Probably he would have volunteered to come. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over.expulsion. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. The advantage an inn has over a private house. Mike did not want to be expelled. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. "Yes. "I forget which." said Psmith. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. "One of the Georges. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. also. Mike would have been glad of a companion. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. which for the time being has slipped my memory. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. communicating with the boots' room. by the cricket field. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. Psmith had yielded up the key. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. 'ullo! Mr. which. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. However. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. The place was shut. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. being wishful to get the job done without delay. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. I've given you the main idea of the thing. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. until he came to the inn. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. Still. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. for many reasons. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. too. . of course. Mr. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. sir?" said the boots. Jackson. "Why. with whom early rising was not a hobby. there you are. Jackson was easy-going with his family.

read it. "You can pop off. "Dear. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. Mr." "The five--" Mr." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back."I want to see Mr. Jack. if it's _that_--" said the boots." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. . which creaked under him. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. Jackson. who was waiting patiently by. "What's up?" he asked. Mr. and wiped his eyes. Barley opened the letter." "I must see him. dear!" chuckled Mr. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. I've got some money to give to him. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. It was an occasion for rejoicing." "Oh. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. "Oh dear!" he said. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. perhaps. thankful. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. and now he felt particularly fogged. of course. the five pounds. Then he collapsed into a chair." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. Barley. hoping for light. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour." Mr. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. and had another attack. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful. and requested him to read it. Jack. "Well. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. Barley. Jackson. but rather for a solemn.

and as sharp as mustard." There was some more to the same effect. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. Barley slapped his leg. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. but.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. in fact.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. it was signed "T. the affair of old Tom Raxley. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. and the damage'll be five pounds. simply in order to satisfy Mr. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. The other day. Mike was ." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. Mr. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. took back the envelope with the five pounds. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. So I says to myself. they are. Love us!" Mr. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. always up to it." it ran. Mischief! I believe you. BARLEY. Barley's sense of humour. about 'ar parse five. "Why. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. Barley slapped his thigh. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. Jellicoe over this. G. which I could not get before. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. I hope it is in time. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. since. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. Aberdeen terriers." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. Mr. "he took it all in. but to be placed in a dangerous position. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. Jellicoe. is another matter altogether. last Wednesday it were. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. finishing this curious document. Mike. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. Jane--she's the worst of the two.--"I send the £5. 'I'll have a game with Mr. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. It would have been cruel to damp the man. and rode off on his return journey. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. "DEAR MR.

There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. of which the house was the centre. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. On the first day of term. Mike felt easier in his mind. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. Downing's house. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. It was pitch-dark in the shed. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. The suddenness. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. Outwood's front garden. nearest to Mr. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. and as he wheeled his machine in. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. however. As he did so. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. There were two gates to Mr. It was from the right-hand gate. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. Without waiting to discover what this might be. after which he ran across to Outwood's. his pursuer again gave tongue. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. that the voice had come. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. and gone to bed. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. With this knowledge. Sergeant Collard . It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. and running. and locked the door. went out. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. find this out for himself. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. and through the study window. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. as Mike came to the ground. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. carried on up the water-pipe. This he accomplished with success. his foot touched something on the floor.

passing through the gate. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. if that was out of the question. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. he supposed--on the school clock. turned aside. A sound of panting was borne to him. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. Having arrived there. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. He left his cover. that he had been seen and followed. He would wait till a quarter past. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. looking out on to the cricket field. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. instead of making for the pavilion. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. this was certainly the next best thing. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. he was evidently possessed of a key. Focussing his gaze. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. The pursuer had given the thing up. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. Like Mike. He ran on. His first impression. turned into the road that led to the school. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. with the sergeant panting in his wake." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). His thoughts were miles away. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. Then he would trot softly back. The other appeared startled. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. taking things easily. as Mike. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. but Time. and so to bed. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. increasing his girth. he sat on the steps. Meanwhile. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all.was a man of many fine qualities. disappeared as the runner. "Is that you. this time at a walk. at Wrykyn. but he could not run. but. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. They passed the gate and went on down the road. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. His programme now was simple. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. shoot up the water-pipe once more. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. Then the sound of footsteps returning. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. . he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. He would have liked to be in bed.

three doughnuts." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. conveyed to him by Adair. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. was now standing at his front gate. whistling between his teeth. "I'm going for the doctor. Now it happened that Mr. All that was wrong with MacPhee. an apple. and a pound of cherries. and washing the lot down with tea. After a moment's pause. aroused from his first sleep by the news. It came about. and Mr. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. Downing emerged from his gate. The school clock struck the quarter. But Mr. waiting for Adair's return. He had despatched Adair for the doctor. He was off like an . after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. two ices. at a range of about two yards. So long. Adair rode off. that MacPhee. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety."What are you doing out here. Jackson?" "What are you. half a cocoa-nut. Adair?" The next moment Mr. was disturbed in his mind. that Mike." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. and. He walked in that direction. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. Downing. was a very fair stomach-ache. with a cry of "Is that you." Mike turned away. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. therefore. as a matter of fact. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. One of the chaps in our house is bad. He would be safe now in trying for home again.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

only. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. whoever he was. he went straight to the headmaster. Downing. The Head. A big boy.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. Downing. He had a cold in the head. he wanted revenge. I suppose not. The headmaster. taking advantage of the door being open. did want to smile. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. instead of running about the road. He received the housemaster frostily. no." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time." Mr. "He--he--_what_. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. Mr. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. "Dear me!" he said. He did not want to smile." "No." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. on the other hand. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. It was not his ." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. was not in the best of tempers. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. you think?" "I am certain of it. in spite of his strict orders. deeply interested. who. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. Mr. you say?" "Very big. "One of the boys at the school. escaped and rushed into the road." said Mr.

Downing. Outwood. I think. not to mention cromlechs.. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. unidentified. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. with the exception of Johnson III. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy. It was Mr. of Outwood's. Downing. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. Oh yes. and Fate. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. had seen. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. if he wanted the criminal discovered." Which he did. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. Downing. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. Downing was left with the conviction that. Downing as they walked back to lunch. "Not actually in." "Impossible. Downing. he would have to discover him for himself. the rest was comparatively easy. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. as far as I understand. but without result. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. Downing was not listening. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. It was only . broke into a wild screech of laughter. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. and passed it on to Mr. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. Mr. gave him a most magnificent start. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. and Mr. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. Outwood who helped him." Mr. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. at the time.

" The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. "Oo-oo-oo. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping. Having requested his host to smoke." "Ah!" ." he said. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. sir--spotted 'im. yer young monkey. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. Feeflee good at spottin'. yer. sir. "Did you catch sight of his face. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. I did. sir. I am. he used to say. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. but it finishes in time. "I did. In due course Mr. as a blind man could have told. sir. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. "tells me that last night. Regardless of the claims of digestion. Downing stated his case." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. ejecting the family. Downing arrived." admitted the sergeant reluctantly.' he used to say. which the latter was about to do unasked. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. Mr. and I doubles after 'im prompt. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence." he said. sir. "Mr. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. sergeant?" "No.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. he rushed forth on the trail. Dinner was just over when Mr. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. in order to ensure privacy. Oo-oo-oo. sergeant. sir. found himself at liberty. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. Dook of Connaught. Downing. sir. Outwood. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run.

is it not?" "Feeflee warm. and dusted. "Well. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. The school plays the M. sergeant." added the sergeant." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. and slept the sleep of the just. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him. success in the province of detective work must always be." And Mr. . rubbing the point in. but it was a dark night. with a label attached.C."Bare-'eaded. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world." he said. put a handkerchief over his face." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. sir. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses." "So do I." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. "It was undoubtedly the same boy." Mr. sergeant." "I hope not. sir. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. sir. Downing rose to go. "I will find my way out. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. Outwood's house. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead. sergeant. 'cos yer see. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. and exhibited clearly. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. the result of luck. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them. if he persisted in making so much noise. sir. sir. I'm feeflee good at spottin'.C. rested his feet on the table." "Pray do not move. while Sergeant Collard." "Good-afternoon to you. "Good-afternoon. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. on Wednesday. to a very large extent. Very hot to-day. having requested Mrs. Good afternoon.

unless you knew who had really done the crime. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. we should have been just as dull ourselves. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . Probably. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. even and. when Fate once more intervened. "Sir. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source. having capped Mr.The average man is a Doctor Watson. As he brooded over the case in hand. Outwood's house. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. but. All these things passed through Mr. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. to detect anybody. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. as a matter of fact. Mr. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. But if ever the emergency does arise. he thought. only a limited number of boys in Mr. but. his sympathy for Dr. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. now that he had started to handle his own first case. We should simply have hung around. a junior member of his house. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. just as the downtrodden medico did. Watson increased with every minute. how--?" and all the rest of it. It certainly was uncommonly hard. requested that way peculiar to some boys. What he wanted was a clue. of course. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. saying: "My dear Holmes. but even if there had been only one other. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. and leaves the next move to you. if he only knew. If you go to a boy and say. there were clues lying all over the place." the boy does not reply. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. It is practically Stalemate. Mr. There were. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. this time in the shape of Riglett. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. shouting to him to pick them up. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. tight-lipped smiles. and his methods. it would have complicated matters.

and finally remarked. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. he saw the clue. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. Downing unlocked the door. Downing. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field. leaving Mr. And this was a particularly messy mess. extracted his bicycle from the rack. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. Red paint. Watson could not have overlooked. "Get your bicycle. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. Downing to mundane matters. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. What he saw at first was not a Clue. Downing saw it. It was the ground-man's paint. Riglett. The sound recalled Mr. Downing. Then suddenly. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. The air was full of the pungent scent. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. however. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. Mr. stood first on his left foot. He felt for his bunch of keys. Give Dr." Riglett. then on his right. "Pah!" said Mr." he said.bicycle from the shed. to be considered. "and be careful where you tread. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. A foot-mark. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. Yoicks! There were two things. Then Mr. blushed. Much thinking had made him irritable. In the first place. Mr. Your careful detective must consider everything. Paint. Downing remembered. Watson a fair start. now coughed plaintively. Mr. beneath the disguise of the mess. and he is a demon at the game. but just a mess. walking delicately through dry places. and made his way to the shed. Downing. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. A foot-mark! No less.

on returning to the house. that there was paint on his boots. "No. Thank you. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. on the right as you turn out into the road. He could get the ground-man's address from him. "Oh. and the ground-man came out in . "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. He rapped at the door of the first. by the way. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. sir. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found." he said. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. don't get up. Oh. His book had been interesting. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. Things were moving. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. His is the first you come to. sir. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. You did not do that. Adair. Quite so. There's a barn just before you get to them. I suppose. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. There are three in a row. Adair. I shall be able to find them. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee." "I see.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. but I could show you in a second. This was the more probable of the two contingencies." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned." "Thank you. sir. Adair. I didn't go into the shed at all." "It is spilt all over the floor. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed.

sir?" "No. It was Sunday. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. Outwood's house somewhere. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. with the result that it has been kicked over. yes. Thank you. Tell me. Regardless of the heat. Just as I thought." "Do you want it. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. "Oh. and denounce him to the headmaster. You had better get some more to-morrow. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. He was hot on the scent now. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded." "Of course. thank you. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. sir. blinking as if he had just woke up. Markby. sir. Picture. Markby. It wanted a lick of paint bad. as was indeed the case." Mr." "Just so. thank you. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited.his shirt-sleeves." "On the floor?" "On the floor. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. Markby. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. and spilt. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. That is all I wished to know. too. An excellent idea. On the shelf at the far end. Quite so. sir. All he had to do was to go to Mr. sir. sir? No. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. The thing had become simple to a degree. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. no. ascertain its owner. Makes it look shabby. The fact is. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so.

"who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories. I will be with you in about two ticks." said Psmith. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings." said Mike. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. "Enough of this spoolery. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. ." murmured Psmith courteously. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room. found Mr. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground. "Or shall I fetch Mr. Outwood. who had just entered the house. sir?" "Do as I tell you. as he passed." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on." "'Tis well." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound. I wonder! Still." Mike walked on towards the field." snapped Mr." said Mike disparagingly. no matter. "A warm afternoon. sir. so he merely inclined his head gracefully. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. sir. Smith. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are. Downing. and said nothing. Downing arrived. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. He is welcome to them." said he. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure." "With acute pleasure. "I was an ass ever to try it. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. and Psmith. "There's a kid in France. "What the dickens. That is to say. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel. What brings him round in this direction.

Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. "Aha!" said Psmith. Smith?" "Ferguson's study. The observation escaped me unawares. Downing stopped short. having examined the last bed. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. "This." They moved on up the passage. Downing with asperity. That's further down the passage.Psmith said no more. Psmith waited patiently by. sir? No. Smith. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. Each boy." said Psmith. but went down to the matron's room. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence." he cried. "Show me the next dormitory. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master. It is Mr. Smith. "The studies. Downing paused. sir. "we have Barnes' dormitory. Mr. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. sir. sir. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. Smith. opening a door. An airy room. "Is this impertinence studied. sir." "I was only wondering. panting slightly." Mr." Mr. sir. Downing rose. An idea struck the master. I understand." said Psmith. "Excuse me. then moved on. "to keep your remarks to yourself. ." said Mr. sir?" he asked. "Here. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds. This is Barnes'. Downing nodded. baffled." said Psmith. "Are you looking for Barnes. "I beg your pardon. "Shall I lead the way." he said. Mr. crimson in the face with the exercise. The matron being out. Mr. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. The master snorted suspiciously. "I think he's out in the field. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity. Downing looked at him closely. Here we have----" Mr. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly.

"Have you no bars to your windows here." said Psmith. Downing raked the room with a keen eye. No. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment. sir. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes. that Mr." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. sir." "Not at all. "The trees. is it not. sir. they go out extremely quickly. putting up his eyeglass." said Mr. Downing with irritation." "Ah! Thank you. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. sir. "No. "This. Downing suddenly started. And. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. is mine and Jackson's. "A lovely view." Mr. the distant hills----" Mr." "I think. the field. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do." Mr. Smith. sir. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. sir. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. Smith?" "Jackson. sir?" said Psmith. Smith. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr. sir. sir. Downing pondered. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. even in the dusk. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. rapping a door. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy." "Never mind about his cricket. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything ."Whose is this?" he asked. The cricketer.

he would have achieved his object. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. Edmund. Mr. that they would be in the basket downstairs." Mr. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room." said Psmith affably. by a devious and snaky route." he said. But that there was something. As it was. trembling with excitement. I believe. Such a moment came to Mr. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. "I should say at a venture." said Mr. "go and bring that basket to me here. "We have here. Downing looked up. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. or it might mean that he had been out all the time. sir. Psmith leaned against the wall. our genial knife-and-boot boy. Mr. at early dawn. collects them. and bent once more to his task. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. I noticed them as he went out just now. "a fair selection of our various bootings. "On the spot. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. sir." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. prompting these manoeuvres. It was a fine his life. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up. Downing knelt on the floor beside . and straightened out the damaged garment. sir--no." Mr. Downing then. Downing stooped eagerly over it. Smith?" "Not one. sir. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. "Smith!" he said excitedly. Boots flew about the room. Downing. he was certain. he rushed straight on. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself." "Smith. and dumped is down on the study floor. sir? He has them on. If he had been wise. he did not know. Psmith had noticed. "His boots. sir. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded.

but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night. and. sir?" Mr. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. I shall take this with me. You can carry it back when you return." "Shall I carry it. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot." he said. He knew nothing. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. At last he made a dive. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. then. of course. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. "Yes. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. carrying a dirty boot." as he did so. Downing left the room. Downing. Psmith looked at it again. on the following day. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. sir. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. Leave the basket here. Smith." Mr. "Ah. "Indeed?" he said.the basket. "Put those back again. Downing had finished. understood what before had puzzled him. when Mr." "Come with me. In his hand he held a boot. After a moment Psmith followed him. "I think it would be best. "No. Bridgnorth. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's." he said. and when. Thither Mr. rising. began to pick up the scattered footgear." "Shall I put back that boot." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. boot-maker. Downing reflected. of course. and doing so. sir. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. . rose to his feet. "That's the lot. The ex-Etonian. Psmith took the boot. Smith." he said. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. It was "Brown. might be a trifle undignified. Downing made his way. The headmaster was in his garden. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. sir?" "Certainly not. one puts two and two together. with an exclamation of triumph.

There was no paint on this boot. sir. it was absolutely and entirely innocent." said the headmaster. red or otherwise. Just. not uncommon. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression." he said vehemently. Downing.. sir. "You must have made a mistake."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. I brought it on purpose to show to you.." The headmaster interposed. Mr. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. Of any suspicion of paint. Just Mr. Mr. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. Downing. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. putting up his eyeglass. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No." "This is foolery. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. Psmith. But." said Psmith chattily. "There was paint on this boot. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. fixed stare. er. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. "who was remarkably subject----" . Mr. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me.. you say. this boot with exactly where Mr. the cynosure of all eyes. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. These momentary optical delusions are. is the--? Just so. I fancy. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. I saw it with my own eyes. "now let me so. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. Smith will bear me out in this. It was a broad splash right across the toe. Downing was the first to break the silence. Smith. putting on a pair of look at--This.

" "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. sir?" said Psmith. Mr. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. "My theory. Downing looked searchingly at him. at the moment. sir?" . sir. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. sir. sir. Downing recollects. is that Mr. The goaded housemaster turned on him." said Psmith." said the headmaster." murmured Psmith. sir." "Exactly." said the headmaster. streaming in through the window." "Really. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness. If Mr. I cannot have been mistaken." said Psmith with benevolent approval. I can assure you that it does not brush off. consequently. Smith." "A sort of chameleon boot. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint. The picture on the retina of the eye." "It is undoubtedly black now. had not time to fade." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed. Smith?" "Did I speak. "You had better be careful. Downing shortly. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance. Smith. "What did you say." "I am reading it. with simple dignity. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. Mr. "that is surely improbable. The afternoon sun. Downing. "My theory. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. really. Mr. he did not look long at the boot. Shall I take the boot with me." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. sir. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own. "Well. if I may----?" "Certainly."It is absurd." "You are very right. "May I go now." said Psmith." "Yes. Downing. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. "for pleasure." said Mr. Smith. Downing. I remember thinking myself.

" said the housemaster. Smith. were friends. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. he reflected. hurried over to Outwood's." . and lock the cupboard. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. "I can manage without your help. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. Downing appeared. and Mr. having included both masters in a kindly smile. he raced down the road. however." Psmith sat down again. left the garden. laid down his novel. that ridiculous glass. "That thing. and the latter. he. On this occasion. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. Psmith. "Put that thing away. Downing. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. Outwood's at that moment saw what. and turning in at Outwood's gate. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. was a most unusual sight. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. and rose to assist him. in fact the probability. sir?" "Yes. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. if they had but known it. too. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. the spectacle of Psmith running. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. where are we? In the soup. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. The scrutiny irritated Mr. Put it away."If Mr. Downing was brisk and peremptory." he said. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling." he said. Without brain. Mr. "I wish to look at these boots again. "Sit down. "Brain. Psmith and Mike. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word." he said to himself approvingly. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. with a sigh. The possibility. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. On arriving at the study. every time. Smith.

He rested his elbows on his knees. The floor could be acquitted. sir?" "Yes." "May I read. and Mr. lodged another complaint. sir. "Don't sit there staring at me. sir?" asked Psmith. This cupboard. Possibly an old note-book. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. sir. He went through it twice. Then he caught sight of the cupboard. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. A ball of string." Psmith took up his book again. after fidgeting for a few moments. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common. and his chin on his hands. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert." ." "I was interested in what you were doing. sir." Mr. sir. Nothing of value or interest. and looked wildly round the room. patiently. Downing rapped the door irritably. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look."Why. His eye roamed about the room. We do not often use it." "Thank you. "Smith!" he said. "Yes. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. Smith." "Open it. There was very little cover there. he stood up. After the second search. but each time without success. of harbouring the quarry." "I think you will find that it is locked." "Never mind." "I guessed that that was the reason. now thoroughly irritated. read if you like. who. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. "Just a few odd trifles. "Yes. perhaps. Downing." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. sir. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. on sight. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while.

sir. Mr. to whom that cupboard happens to belong. sir. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. and ask him to be good . Downing thought for a moment."Unlock it. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it. I shall break open the door. And I know it's not Mr. sir. "go and find Mr. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith. Then he was seized with a happy idea. Jackson might have taken it. you must get his permission. amazed. If you wish to break it open. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me. Outwood. Smith would be alone in the room." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere." Mr. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things." Psmith got up. But when it came to breaking up his furniture." Mr. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. staring into vacancy. sir." "But where is the key. I am only the acting manager." he said." he said shortly. perhaps----! On the other hand. "Smith. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr." Mr. Downing paused. "Are you aware whom you are talking to. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place. "I don't believe a word of it. if Smith were left alone in the room. Downing stared. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. Smith?" he inquired acidly. "Yes. He also reflected. And he knew that. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. Outwood. Outwood.

which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. I would fly to do your bidding. "on a technical point. Smith?" Mr. Downing's voice was steely." "What!" "Yes. "_Quick_." "one cannot. "I take my stand. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. So in my case. 'Mr. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. as who should say. "Let us be reasonable. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. and explain to him how matters stand. sir. sir." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. His manner was almost too respectful. "Yes. and come back and say to me. One cannot. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . ha." Psmith still made no move. Smith." he continued. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. If you pressed a button. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. "If you will let me explain. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. 'Psmith. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. But in Mr. Smith. "Do you intend to disobey me. I would do the rest. Outwood. to take a parallel case. I say to myself. sir. Outwood. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr." he said." he said. If you will go to Mr. who resumed the conversation. "Go and find Mr. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. "Thwarted to me face. Mr. Outwood at once.enough to come here for a moment. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say. as if he had been asked a conundrum. Mr. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. however." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. I ought to have remembered that before. your word would be law. Outwood's house." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly.

there will be a boot there when you return." added Psmith pensively to himself. and thrust it up the chimney. He noticed with approval. I shall not tell you again. Outwood with spirit. "But. He went there. He tied the other end of the string to this." said Mr. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string. Outwood." "H'm!" said Mr." why he should not do so if he wishes it. You see my difficulty. " Smith?" asked Mr. blackening his hand.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. "I have been washing my hands. and let the boot swing free. sir. he went to the window. the latter looking dazed. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. Downing suspiciously. Smith. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. he re-locked the door. Then he turned to the boot. when it had stopped swinging. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard." "My dear Outwood. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now." ." Mr." snapped the sleuth. Smith. as the footsteps died away. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. Outwood." He took the key from his pocket. When he returned. Downing stalked out of the room. and. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. Outwood. at any rate." "I can assure you. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. "Yes. A shower of soot fell into the grate. Downing wishes me to do." added Mr. Mr. "Where have you been. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. sir. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. Downing was in the study. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. and washed off the soot. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. unlocked the cupboard. "Very well. Placing this in the cupboard. On a level with the sill the water-pipe. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. Downing sharply. and took out the boot. and with him Mr. up which Mike had started to climb the night before.

Now. my dear Outwood."Exactly. "We must humour him. Mr. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This." said Psmith sympathetically. with any skeletons it might contain. Downing uttered a cry of triumph. Then. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. Psmith'a expression said." he said. "I've been looking for it for days. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now. Outwood with asperity. The cupboard. Outwood. Downing?" interrupted Mr." said Psmith. "You have touched the spot. Outwood started. sir. He never used them. he did. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. and tore the boot from its resting-place. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor." said Mr. round-eyed." "If I must explain again. as Smith declares that he has lost the key. Smith?" "I must have done. Let me see. "This is not the boot." said Psmith. as plainly as if he had spoken the words." he said. glaring at Psmith. Downing was examining his find. do you understand?" Mr. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. The wood splintered. "to be free from paint. belonging to Mike. was open for all to view. none at all." Mr." "It certainly appears. Have you any objection?" Mr. "This boot has no paint on it. "I told you. Mr. At any rate." "I wondered where that boot had got to. "Why?" "I don't know why." "So with your permission. if you look at it sideways. "Did you place that boot there. Downing shortly. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment. Outwood. "Objection? None at all. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door." "He painted--!" said Mr. Downing seized one of these. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint." he added helpfully. and painted my dog Sampson red. "I told you. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . Last night a boy broke out of your house. approvingly. my dear fellow. sir.

baffled. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. Apply them. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. Smith. and a thrill went through him. though. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. Downing's eye. "Animal spirits. once more. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. Smith?" he asked slowly. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. and one could imagine him giving Mr. Unfortunately." "It's been great fun. Downing laughed grimly. Mr." he said. "Ah. and thrust an arm up into the unknown. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush. "WHAT!" . The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. he used the sooty hand. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr." Mr." argued Psmith. sir." "No. "I thought as much. not to have given me all this trouble. nearly knocking Mr. Outwood had the grate.") Mr. my dear Watson. "We all make mistakes. He bent down to "Dear me. "Fun!" Mr." "You would have done better. Downing. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE. sir. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth." said Psmith patiently. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. hard knock. but he ignored it. A little more." he said. You have done yourself no good by it. SMITH?"] "Yes. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand." said Psmith. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. Outwood off his feet. But his brain was chance remark of Mr. sir. Downing a good. from earth to heaven. after all. You were not quite clever enough. Smith. sir. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. It should have been done before. He looked up.

His fears were realised. my dear fellow. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. for the time being. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. It had been trying. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. . "You will hear more of this. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. you present a most curious appearance. "your face. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. Having restored the basket to its proper place. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. but on the whole it had been worth it. Mr. he saw. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so." he said. as he had said. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. In the language of the Ring. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. he went up to the study again. at the back of the house. * * * * * When they had gone. and hauled in the string. You are quite black. "Soot!" "Your face is covered. Mr. and it was improbable that Mr. Edmund. Let me show you the way to my room. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. You must come and wash it. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. quite covered." Then he allowed Mr. Outwood. for a man of refinement." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. most. Smith. soap. and sponges."Animal spirits. until he should have thought out a scheme. Really. It would take a lot of cleaning. intervened." said Psmith. He went down beneath it. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. accordingly. just as he was opening his mouth. sir. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. For. Downing had found the other. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. far from the madding crowd." he said. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. sir. he took the count. It was the knock-out. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. Psmith went to the window. It seemed to him that. the boot-boy. though one can guess roughly." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. positively. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. worked in some mysterious cell. at about the same height where Mr. of course. It is positively covered with soot. "My dear Downing. and it had cut into his afternoon. The boot-cupboard was empty. "I say you will hear more of it." What Mr.

some wag is sure either to stamp on the . Edmund. he should not wear shoes. Psmith was no exception to the rule. But. Jackson." Edmund turned this over in his mind. At a school. There was nothing. which one observes naturally and without thinking. should he prefer them. Boys say. and then said. There is no real reason why. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. I can still understand sound reasoning. sir. "No. I mean--Oh. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. So Psmith kept his own counsel. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. "'Ere's one of 'em. "I may have lost a boot. Mr. to be gained from telling Mike." "Well. the thing creates a perfect sensation." as much as to say. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. if he does. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. "Great Scott. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. Edmund. "Jones. "Well. he thought. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps." he said. dash it. So in the case of boots. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. Mr. had no views on the subject. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. Jackson. "One? What's the good of that. It was not altogether forgetfulness. thank goodness. but. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are." replied Edmund to both questions.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. for instance. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found. if the day is fine. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. there's the bell.

since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. and finally "That will do. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. but they feel it in their bones. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. he told him to start translating. was taken unawares. lines. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. and the form. as he usually did. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. "I have lost one of my boots. sir?" said Mike. Downing's lips. as accordingly.. turning to Stone. abuse. Stone. He said "Yes." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. looking on them. Then. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. or else to pull one of them off. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. had regarded Mike with respect. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. They cannot see it. Mr. Jackson?" "Pumps. Downing who gave trouble. called his name. yes. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. and the subsequent proceedings. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. of a vivid crimson. It was only Mr. He waged war remorselessly against shoes.. leaning back against the next row of desks. On one occasion." mechanically. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. sir. Mike. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. Satire. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. "Yes. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. stiffening like a pointer. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots.. sir. But. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. Downing. he floundered hopelessly. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. Mr." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. with a few exceptions. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . When he found the place in his book and began to construe.

and sped to the headmaster. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. In view of the M. consequently. compared with Mike's. in the cool morning air. As a rule. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast." said Stone. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. he gathered up his gown.returned. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. and the first American interviewer. gnawing his bun. Mike himself. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. "Wal. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. came to a momentous decision. match on the Wednesday." "I shouldn't wonder. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. His case was complete. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. to wit. Until the sun has really got to work.C. Mike's appearance in shoes. which nobody objects to. Downing's mind was in a whirl. Rushing about on an empty stomach. Downing feel at that moment." said Stone. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. with the explanation that he had lost a boot. They played well enough when on the field." "Personally. however. and no strain. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided. completed the chain." said Robinson. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. "I don't intend to stick it. jumping on board. yawning and heavy-eyed. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. that searching test of cricket keenness. and all that sort of thing. "It's all rot. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. said. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour.C. I mean. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. it is no joke taking a high catch. sir. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. Mr." . had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance.

We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. Barnes. but in reality he has only one weapon. And I don't mind that. with a scratch team." "Nor do I. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. "He can do what he likes about it. You were rotten to-day. had no information to give. are easily handled. practically helpless. unless he is a man of action. and the chance of making runs greater." And he passed on. leaving the two malcontents speechless. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. The majority. Barnes was among those present." said Robinson."Nor do I. the keenness of those under him.C. he'd better find somebody else. then he finds himself in a difficult position. The result of all this was that Adair. At breakfast that morning thought. Which was not a great help. consequently." "I don't think he will kick us out." At this moment Adair came into the shop. it's such absolute rot." "I mean. after all? Only kick us out of the team. either. who his right. wherever and however made.C. Mr. With the majority. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. and. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. you know. "Let's. Stone was the first to recover." "All right. As a rule he had ten minutes with the . Stone and Robinson felt secure. "at six. Taking it all round. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind. as they left the shop. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. found himself two short. of course. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay. Besides." he said briskly. what can he do." he said. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school. If he does. questioned on the subject. You two must buck up." Their position was a strong one. He can't play the M. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. "Rather." "Yes. Downing.

" he said. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. We didn't give it the chance to. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. "Sorry. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk. physical or moral. however. Stone spoke. who." Adair's manner became ominously calm. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects. who left the lead to Stone in all matters. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself. said nothing. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room. He resolved to interview the absentees. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding." "It didn't." said Stone. I suppose?" "That's just the word. He never shirked anything.daily paper before the bell rang. Adair!" "Don't mention it. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold. To-day." "Sorry it bored you. . "We decided not to. "Hullo. "We didn't turn up." "Oh?" "Yes. Many captains might have passed the thing over. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. "I know you didn't. "You were rather fed-up. not having seen the paper. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties." Robinson laughed appreciatively. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone.

" said Robinson. with some haste. you're going to to-morrow morning. "You cad." "Good. and was standing in the middle of the open space. Of course. You won't find me there. but we don't care if you do. "It's no good making a row about it. He was up again in a moment." "I'll give you something else to think about soon. So we're all right. you can kick us out of the team. You must see that you can't do anything. We've told you we aren't going to. Adair. but he said it without any deep conviction. Adair. Shall we go on?" ." Stone intervened. and knocked him down." "You don't think there is? You may be right. "There's no joke. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. All the same. as you seem to like lying in bed. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes. "I wasn't ready."What's the joke. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you." "Well. "Right." "That's only your opinion. I'll give you till five past six." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No. We'll play for the school all right." said Stone. Nor Robinson?" "No. Don't be late." said Stone." said the junior partner in the firm." "You can turn out if you feel like it. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. if you like. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row." "What!" "Six sharp. you are now." "That'll be a disappointment. Robinson?" asked Adair. I think you are." "Don't be an ass." said Adair quietly. Adair had pushed the table back. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast. "I was only thinking of something.

" said Adair.Stone dashed in without a word." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike." said Stone. I don't know if he's still there. but he was cooler and quicker. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. How about you. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going . "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute. and he knew more about the game. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone. But science tells. "Thanks." "Good." said Adair. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair." said Adair. He was not altogether a coward. even in a confined space. "You don't happen to know if he's in. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction. "All right. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago. "Thanks. "All right." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study." "I'll go and see. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain." he said hastily." Stone made no reply. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table. "I'll turn up. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation.

" he said. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. and went on reading. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. Mike mourned over his suffering school. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets. led by Mike's brother Reggie. Since this calamity. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. A broken arm. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. when his resentment was at its height. And it was at this point. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. Which. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. entered the room. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. fortunately. In school cricket one good batsman. He's had a . contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. the fast bowler. If only he could have been there to help. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand.C. was hard lines on Ripton. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. that Adair. everything had gone wrong. This was one of them. was off. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer.C. The Incogs. * * * * * Psmith. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. said Strachan. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. including Dixon. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. returned with a rush. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. looking up from his paper. It might have made all the difference. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. which had been ebbing during the past few days. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. "If you ask my candid opinion. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. In fact. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. Altogether.. Psmith was the first to speak. wrote Strachan. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable.on below stairs. The M. The Ripton match.

the poacher. I'll none of thee. Promptitude. "I'll tell you in a minute." he sighed. We would brood. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute. which might possibly be made dear later. This is no time for loitering. He's just off there at the end of this instalment." . "It didn't last long. "Certainly." said Psmith. "is right. We must hustle." Psmith turned away. Despatch." "That. too. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing. Adair. the Pride of the School. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks." said Adair grimly.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. Shakespeare. That is Comrade Jackson. Adair was looking for trouble. The fact that the M. go thee. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. after a prolonged inspection. We must Do It Now. We----" "Buck up." said Adair. I bet Long Jack. knave. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner. "We weren't exactly idle. It won't take long.C. Stone chucked it after the first round. Oh. dark circles beneath my eyes." "Fate." said Mike. Care to see the paper. We must be strenuous. but it was pretty lively while it did." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour. For some reason. Speed is the key-note of the present age. "There are lines on my face.C. "Surely. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson." said Psmith approvingly. sitting before you. Leave us. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it." Mike got up out of his chair. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass. I thought that you and he were like brothers. "has led your footsteps to the right place. "I'm not the man I was. He could not quite follow what all this was about." he said. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson." said Adair." "What do you want?" said Mike." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice." said Psmith. is waiting there with a sandbag. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school.

You aren't building on it much. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. Mike said nothing. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit. stepped between them." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes. He's going to all right. turning to Mike. "I am. "are a bit close together. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike.?" he asked curiously. isn't it?" "Very. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning. "So are you. "Oh?" said Mike at last. and Adair looked at Mike. rather.C." Mike took another step forward. are you?" said Mike politely. There was an electric silence in the study. to-morrow. He said he wouldn't. "it's too late to alter that now." Mike drew a step closer to Adair." "I don't think so. So is Robinson." "My eyes. Adair moved to meet him. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think. "I get thinner and thinner." said Psmith from the mantelpiece." said Psmith regretfully." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. Mike looked at Adair. and in that second Psmith. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. and I want you to get some practice. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. turning from the glass.said Adair. However." he added philosophically. so we argued it out.C. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another." Mike remained silent." added Adair.C. "What makes you think I shall play against the M.C. I know." replied Adair with equal courtesy. ." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M. "I'm going to make you.

I lodge a protest. Are you ready. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. In an ordinary contest with the gloves." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments." After which. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. with a minute rest in between. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. without his guiding hand. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. In a fight each party. a mere unscientific scramble. only a few yards down the road."Get out of the light. hates the other. what would have been. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. one does not dislike one's opponent." he said. then. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. Up to the moment when "time" was called. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. Directly Psmith called "time. Time. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. The latter was a clever boxer. one was probably warmly attached to him. producing a watch. On the present occasion. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. nothing could have prevented him winning. where you can scrap all night if you want to." said Mike. "will be of three minutes' duration. as a rule. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. If you really feel that you want to scrap. Smith. If Adair had kept away and used his head. In a boxing competition. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. It was this that saved Mike. "My dear young friends. . and are consequently brief and furious. however much one may want to win. "The rounds. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. Dramatically." he said placidly." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. But school fights. I suppose you must. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate.

He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. the deliverer of knock-out blows. and he was all but knocked out. after all. however. and. I think. I shouldn't stop. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. as anybody looking on would have seen. He rose full of fight. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. Mike Jackson. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. which would do him no earthly good. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. In the excitement of a fight--which is. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. Then he lurched forward at Mike.As it was. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. We may take that." "Is he hurt much. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. he threw away his advantages. . was strange to him. This finished Adair's chances. You go away and pick flowers. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. At the same time. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected." said Psmith. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. but Jackson. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. Mike had the greater strength. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. thirty seconds from the start. he knew. if I were you. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. coming forward. The feat presented that interesting person. I'll look after him. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. Mike could not see this. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. and then Adair went down in a heap. There was a swift exchange of blows. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. do you think?" asked Mike. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. "_He's_ all right. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. He went in at Mike with both hands. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. that Adair was done. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. "Brief. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. the cricketer. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing." said Psmith. so he hit out with all his strength. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. now rendered him reckless. "but exciting. If it's going to be continued in our next. Jackson. Psmith saw. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. but with all the science knocked out of him. The Irish blood in him. He got up slowly and with difficulty. that there was something to be said for his point of view.

and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up. but every one to his taste. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. Psmith straightened his tie. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. There was a pause. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. if possible. We have been chatting. Jones. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin." said Mike indignantly. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. My eloquence convinced him. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. He had come to this conclusion. had the result which most fights have. As a start." "He's all right. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. It shook him up. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons.' game. And as he's leaving at the end of the term." continued Psmith. However." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. of course?" "Of course not. You didn't. in fact. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. not afraid of work. He's not a bad cove. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M." he said. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. why not?" .The fight. to return to the point under discussion. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. "Sha'n't play. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. after much earnest thought. "Look here. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger." said Mike. before.C. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. to a certain extent. Where. when Psmith entered the study.C. It's not a bad idea in its way. and drained the bad blood out of him. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school.

" "You're rotting. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered." Mike stared. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass." "But you told me you didn't like cricket." "No. little by little. Last year. and polishing it with his handkerchief. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating. I hate to think. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. "You're what? You?" "I. I do. and drifted with the stream." "Quite right. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket. But when the cricket season came. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's. "If your trouble is." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock. I did think. but look here. I fought against it. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. where was I? Gone. However----" ." said Psmith." "You wrong me. Smith. when I came here. breathing on a coat-button. "my secret sorrow. but it was not to be. and after a while I gave up the struggle. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night. that I had found a haven of rest. What Comrade Outwood will say." said Psmith. bar rotting. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces. I turn out to-morrow." "----Dismiss it." said Psmith. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so. _I_ am playing. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life. Comrade Jackson. but it was useless. You said you only liked watching it. And in time the thing becomes a habit."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices.

wavering on the point of playing for the school.C. It's nothing bad. Close the door gently after you. and here was Psmith. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player. I'll go round. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match. Psmith whimsically. it went. but useless to anybody who values life. broke in earnest. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house." he said. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. A spot of rain fell on his hand. A moment later there was a continuous patter. I'll play. I don't know. and ran back to Outwood's." "Not a bad scheme. Downing's and going to Adair's study." "That's all right. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. "By Jove. Then in a flash Mike understood. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide. He's not playing against the M. I'll write a note to Adair now. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. Here was he. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. the recalcitrant. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. Anyhow. Mike turned up his coat-collar. each in his own way--Mike sullenly." On arriving at Mr. "At this rate. as the storm. "if you're playing. But. but he read Psmith's mind now. He was not by nature intuitive. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. which had been gathering all day. If Psmith. Since the term began. He's sprained his wrist." "I say. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow. You won't have to. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea." he said to himself. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. therefore. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn.C. "there won't be a match at all . And they had both worked it off. Adair won't be there himself.

" "I hate having to hurry over to school. while figures in mackintoshes. So do I." "Yes." "So do I." Another silence. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness. "About nine to." "Beastly." "Yes. isn't it?" said Mike. Mike. "It's only about ten to. . met Adair at Downing's gate. Three if one didn't hurry. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. I should think. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it. it does the thing thoroughly. shouldn't you?" "Not much more." "Yes. in the gentle. damp and depressed. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet." "I often do cut it rather fine. with discoloured buckskin boots. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly." "Beastly nuisance when one does. "Right ho!" said Adair. They walked on in silence. crawl miserably about the field in couples. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen. These moments are always difficult." * * * * * When the weather decides." "Good. after behaving well for some weeks. We've got plenty of time. and then the rain began again. Might be three. Adair fished out his watch." "Oh. if one didn't hurry. to show what it can do in another though. yes.

. Less." "What's the time?" asked Mike. rather not. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week. It was my fault." "Good.." "Rummy. thanks. thanks awfully for saying you'd play.." Silence again. I say. Smith turning out to be a cricketer. doesn't it?" "Rotten.. no."Beastly day. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully. just before the match. probably. "Five to. "Rotten. rot." "I bet you anything you like you would.." "Now that you and Smith are going to play. It was only right at the end. It looks pretty bad.." "Oh." ." "Oh. "I don't know. we ought to have a jolly good season.. "I say." "Oh." said Adair. scowling at his toes." "Yes." "Does it hurt?" "Oh. with his height.." "Oh." "We've heaps of time. "awfully sorry about your wrist.. Jolly hard luck. that's all right. no. I say." "Oh." "I bet you I shouldn't. rot." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year." said Mike. You'd have smashed me anyhow." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself. Adair produced his watch once more. that's all right. I should think he'd be a hot bowler." "Yes. no.

and blundered into a denunciation of the place." "Oh." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. I wouldn't have done it. rotten little hole. no. fortunately. "Yes." "He never even asked me to get him a place. heaps." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have." "Of course not." "No. that's all right. even if he had." "It was rotten enough. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. Smith told me you couldn't have done. I know. "What rot!" he said. isn't it?" or words to that effect. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith." "No. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea. as it were: for now. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment. not playing myself. and come to a small school like this. on the Chinese principle. for the second time in two days. So they ought to be. no. really. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say. I know. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team. "I say. It was only for a bit." "I didn't want to play myself. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. Mike. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. ." "Of course. He eluded the pitfall."Yes. Everybody's as keen as blazes. after the way you've sweated. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness." Adair shuffled awkwardly. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition.

They'd simply laugh at you. "By jove. so I don't see anything of him all day. at the interval." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. I never thought of it before. There's quite decent batting all the way through. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. My jaw still aches. You've been sweating for years to get the match on. "_You_ were all right. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle. I must have looked rotten. "if that's any comfort to you. we'd walk into them. anyhow. We've got math. and hang about in case. I don't know which I'd least soon be. we've got a jolly hot lot. Downing or a black-beetle." said Mike. of anything like it." "I don't know that so much. You'd better get changed. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year.C." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. I'm not sure that I care much. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously." "It might clear before eleven. then. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. with you and Smith."I've always been fairly keen on the place. they're worse." "You've loosened one of my front teeth. and really. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. I've never had the gloves on in my life. As you're crocked. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing." ." said Adair. because I'm certain.C. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. who doesn't count. They probably aren't sending down much of a team." "What! They wouldn't play us. We sha'n't get a game to-day." "He isn't a bad sort of chap. Hullo. when you get to know him." "All right. If only we could have given this M. lot a really good hammering. and the bowling isn't so bad." Mike stopped. Dash this rain." he said. with a grin. I wish we could play. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season. You see. and it would be rather rot playing it without you. As for the schools. "I can't have done. till the interval. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record. which won't hurt me. I got about half a pint down my neck just then. They began to laugh. We'd better be moving on. there's the bell. now that you and Smith are turning out. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much.

and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon.C. To which Adair.'" . had not confided in him. leaving Psmith. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. Meanwhile. We'll smash them. The two teams. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house. it seemed. Mike. and went off. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. and the first Sedleigh _v_. after hanging about dismally. So they've got a vacant date. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. "By Jove. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning. if you like. yesterday. "A nuisance. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. with a message that Mr. match was accordingly scratched. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed. At least. and would be glad if Mike would step across. I had a letter from Strachan. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. That's the worst of being popular.C. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned.C. Mike and Psmith. I'm pretty sure they would. the captain. Mr." said Psmith. "this incessant demand for you. edge away. Downing. M. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. And they aren't strong this year."Yes." said Psmith. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. without looking up. captain. If he wants you to stop to tea. he worked at it both in and out of school." Mike changed quickly. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. wandering back to the house. approaching Adair. they would." he said at last. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. regretfully agreed.C. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness. For the moment I am baffled. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. The messenger did not know. You come and have a shot. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. was agitated. The whisper flies round the clubs. After which the M. 'Psmith is baffled.

" "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut. But. you know all about that." said Mike warmly. ." "Evidence!" said Mike." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. he's been crawling about. pretty nearly." "I know. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly." "He thinks I did it. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg. "Me. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. "No." said Mike shortly."The man's an absolute drivelling ass." "_Did_ you. The thing's a stand-off. As far as I can see. Give you a nice start in life. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't. "I didn't. He as good as asked me to. by the way?" asked Psmith. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots." said Psmith. "My dear man. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing. "Which it was. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. dash it." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle. I believe he's off his nut.

sickening thud. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps. with a dull. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone. It must have been the paint-pot. you were with him when he came and looked for them. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. "Comrade Jackson. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. But what makes him think that the boot." said Psmith. "Say on!" "Well. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. kneeling beside the fender and groping. meaning to save you unpleasantness. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. and is hiding it somewhere. . it was like this. and glared at it. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. if any. and it's nowhere about. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER. Get it over. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. It is red paint." Psmith sighed. Psmith listened attentively. but one's being soled." he said mournfully. 'tis not blood. That's how he spotted me. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. In my simple zeal.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't. and reach up the chimney. right in the cart. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily." said Mike." said Psmith. I have landed you. so he thinks it's me." "I don't know what the game is. Be a man. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it. "It _is_. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint. "your boot.Why." "Yes." "It is true." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show." said Psmith. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him. Of course I've got two pairs. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No.

Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers. I take it. and try to get something out of me." "Probably. and forgot all about it? No? No. You see. The worst of it is." ." "I suppose not. in a moment of absent-mindedness. you see. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. I will think over the matter. Downing chased me that night." "_He'll_ want you to confess." said Psmith. and--well. taking it all round." "What exactly. and I said I didn't care. or some rot. "Not for a pretty considerable time. and go out and watch the dandelions growing. I can't. So. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. I _am_ in the cart. that he is now on the war-path." he said. then." Psmith pondered. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. in connection with this painful affair. then. You never know. that was about all." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it. I hope you'll be able to think of something. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing. Masters are all whales on confession. That was why I rang the alarm bell. when Mike had finished. I hadn't painted his bally dog."This. which was me." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. was it?" "Yes. he's certain to think that the chap he chased." said Mike. If I can't produce this boot. inspecting it with disfavour. so to speak." "Well. and he said very well." asked Psmith." he admitted. by any chance." "Sufficient. they're bound to guess why. too. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. You had better put the case in my hands. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. collecting a gang." "Possibly. I suppose not. "It _is_ a tightish place. I say. too. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. I shall get landed both ways. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward. you can't prove an alibi. and the chap who painted Sammy. This needs thought. he must take steps. "quite sufficient. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. are the same.

it seemed. "Oh. he allowed Mike to go on his way. Stout denial is the thing. He had not been gone two minutes. You can't beat it. Downing which hung on the wall. "Tell him to write." said Psmith encouragingly." said Psmith. He was examining a portrait of Mr." he said. sir. Smith. "An excellent likeness. heaved himself up again. "Well. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. Jackson. The postman was at the door when he got there." With which expert advice. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. "_You're_ all right. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you. I say. Jackson will be with him in a moment. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner. who had just been told it was like his impudence. "Tell Willie. "that Mr. Thence." said Psmith." said Mike to Psmith." said Psmith. "See how we have trained them. He was. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting. sir. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. at the same dignified rate of progress." "Ha!" said Mr. ." A small boy. wrapped in thought. when the housemaster came in. answered the invitation. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog. Downing." said Mr." Mike got up. "They now knock before entering. "Is Mr. when Psmith. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage." The emissary departed. Downing shortly. who had leaned back in his chair.There was a tap at the door. Don't go in for any airy explanations." he added. passed away. Simply stick to stout denial. "Just you keep on saying you're all right. "All this is very trying. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. caught sight of him. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. and requested to wait. "Don't go." suggested Psmith. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. and. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. Come in." He turned to the small boy." "I told you so.

Masters. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. especially if you really are innocent. as he sat and looked at Mike. Downing. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. After the first surprise. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. sir. except possibly the owner of the dog. "I do not think you fully realise. sir. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. As for Psmith . They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. Downing. A voice without said." said Psmith. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. who committed the--who painted my dog."I did it." said Mr. Jackson. and conversation showed a tendency to flag." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. It was a kid's trick. do not realise this. The atmosphere was heavy. unsupported by any weighty evidence. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. Downing had laid before him. but anybody. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. Downing to see you. felt awkward." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. It was a boy in the same house. "Mr. and the headmaster. "but----" "Not at all. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. Smith. but boys nearly always do. what it got was the dramatic interruption. Mr. As it happened. The headmaster was just saying. "No. He could not believe it. as a rule. "I would not have interrupted you. would have thought it funny at first." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. it was not Jackson. any more than he could imagine doing it himself.

who was nodding from time to time. if you are going back to your house." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. no. hardly listening to what Mr." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. Downing. with calm triumph. sir. "Certainly. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. Mike felt." He had reached the door. So Mr. "Adair!" . Downing was saying. Downing leaped in his chair. "Yes. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge." said the headmaster. what did you wish to say." "No. Well. He sat there. or even thankful." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. "Oh." said Mr. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. looking at Mr. sir.having done it." "Yes. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. Adair. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. when again there was a knock. sir. Downing. It was Adair. Mr. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. tell Smith that I should like to see him. "Ah. If Psmith had painted Sammy. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. Mr. Jackson. certainly. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. Mike simply did not believe it." he said. Downing----" "It was Dunster. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion. sir?" he said. as if he had been running. "Smith!" said the headmaster. This was bound to mean the sack. "May I go. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. we know--. "Come in. if possible. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent." said the Head. sir. and er--. Adair.

That Mike. sir. perhaps. sir. "Yes. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody. if Dunster had really painted the dog. He stopped the night in the village. had left the school at Christmas. he remembered dizzily. for a rag--for a joke. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. too. Why Dunster. His brain was swimming." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. was curious. but he wasn't in the house. had played a mean trick on him. and he told me that Mr. in the words of an American author. I'd better tell Mr. "Adair!" "Yes. Downing's voice was thunderous. sir. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. sir. was guiltless.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. It was a . sir." "_Laughed!_" Mr. but not particularly startling. sir." "Smith told you?" said Mr. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. But that Adair should inform him." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. I tried to find Mr. Then I met Smith outside the house. of all people? Dunster. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. Downing. sir. Downing at once. Downing. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. sir." Mr. should be innocent. who." said the headmaster. the dog. Downing snorted. sir. He has left the school. and that." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. Downing had gone over to see you. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. He rolled about. Well." "I see. that Psmith. "But Adair. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. And why. despite the evidence against him. two minutes after Mr. "Yes.

He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men. sir. It was not long. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality. though sure of his welcome. I suppose." he said." "Thank you. Smith. saying that he would wait. Barlow. "It is still raining. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. Mr.foolish. "kindly go across to Mr." "The sergeant." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient. If he did not do it. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr. He gave the impression of one who." said the headmaster. feels that some slight apology is expected from him. sir." "H'm. but. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation. Ask him to step up." he observed. while it lasted. sir?" "Sit down. "I shall write to him. the silence was quite solid." "In the hall!" "Yes. He arrived soon after Mr. "Mr. sir." said Mr. sir." said Mr. Smith. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. Downing. pressing a bell. The door was opened. "You wished to see me. . sir." "Another freak of Dunster's." said the headmaster. Outwood's house." "Yes. Nobody seemed to have anything to say. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog. Adair. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window." "If you please. Barlow. discreditable thing to have done. as you would probably wish to see him shortly. as the butler appeared. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. Downing. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure. Smith is waiting in the hall. but slightly deprecating." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner. He was cheerful." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience. sir.

Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. "It is remarkable." "Yes. sir." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities. Smith--" began the headmaster. but have you--er. as a child. Then he went on. "I should like to see you alone for a moment. Downing burst out." he replied sadly. "how frequently." "But." he said. I do not for a moment wish to pain you. "The craze for notoriety. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. sir. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair. Mr. "Er--Smith." . When he and Psmith were alone. Psmith bent forward encouragingly. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. sir. "Smith. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. He paused again. when a murder has been committed. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. "Smith." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. Jackson. let us say. "Er--Smith.Mr." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction." "What!" cried the headmaster. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. sir." proceeded Psmith placidly. do you remember ever having had. "The curse of the present age." He made a motion towards the door. "Smith. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. there was silence.

Of course. "Not a bad old sort. This is strictly between ourselves. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further. sir. "Good-night." There was a pause. tell nobody." said Psmith meditatively to himself. the proper relations boy and--Well.. Smith. "Well. "You _are_ the limit. never mind that for the present.. sir. You think. Smith. of course. That was the whole thing." . "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list." said the headmaster." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know. For the moment.. sir. it was like this. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves.." said the headmaster hurriedly. at last. Good-night. quite so. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. as he walked downstairs." He held out his hand. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. Downing's dog.. let me hear what you wish to course. Smith. I shall. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him. You are a curious boy. "It was a very wrong thing to do.. Smith. "but. "Well?" said Mike. but he said nothing. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion. sir. "What's he done?" "Nothing." said Psmith. if you do not wish it." "I think you are existing between can return to it say. We had a very pleasant chat. sir. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting." "Well. then. of sometimes apt to forget. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled. and then I tore myself away. "Of course. sir----" Privately." said Adair." said Psmith." said Psmith cheerfully. We later. "By no means a bad old sort." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door.

" "Well. "They've got a vacant date. chuck it. Psmith. and things were going badly for Sedleigh. "And it was jolly good of you." Psmith's expression was one of pain. Adair. you're a marvel." said Mike." Psmith moaned. I'm surprised at you." said Mike." said Mike obstinately." said Psmith. Psmith thanked him courteously. and Wrykyn. too. "my very best love. who had led on the first innings. In a way one might have said that the game was over. I believe you did. They walked on towards the houses. "you wrong me. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game." "Oh. "By the way." said Adair. for it was a one day match. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day. when you see him." said Adair. all the same." "And give Comrade Downing. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_. "My dear Comrade Jackson. had only to play out time to make the game theirs." "Well. "Good-night. and that Sedleigh had lost. I hope the dickens they'll do it. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner. I should think they're certain to. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson. You make me writhe. There is a certain type of ." said he. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's." * * * * * "I say. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is." "What's that?" asked Psmith. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over." said Mike suddenly."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won.

and he used it. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. The team listened. Whereas Wrykyn. and the others. as a rule. and he had fallen after hitting one four. declined to hit out at anything. whatever might happen to the others. That put the finishing-touch on the batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. Robinson. He had an enormous reach. July the twentieth. Sedleigh had never been proved. Stone. this in itself was a calamity. the Wrykyn slow bowler. The weather had been bad for the last week. on Mike's authority. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. with Barnes not out sixteen. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. Unless the first pair make a really good start. It was useless for Adair to tell them. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. Sedleigh. and. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. the team had been all on the jump. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. several of them. the bulwark of the side. with the exception of Adair. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. and . teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. so Adair had chosen to bat first. for seventy-nine. Psmith.C. from time immemorial. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. but then Wrykyn cricket. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. a collapse almost invariably ensues. but were not comforted. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. and from whom. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. had played inside one from Bruce. crawled to the wickets. and Mike.C. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. Mike. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. playing back to half-volleys. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. with his score at thirty-five. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. Experience counts enormously in school matches. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. It was likely to get worse during the day. assisted by Barnes. and were clean bowled. He had had no choice but to take first innings. as he did repeatedly. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. Ten minutes later the innings was over. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. that Wrykyn were weak this season. Wrykyn had then gone in. Adair did not suffer from panic.

skied one to Strachan at cover. who had taken six wickets. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. Psmith got the next man stumped. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. and lashed out stoutly. at fifteen. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. they felt. Seventeen for three. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. at any rate. And when. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. who had just reached his fifty. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. The deficit had been wiped off. and the collapse ceased. And when Stone came in. the next pair. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. helped by the wicket. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. and refused to hit at the bad. proceeded to play with caution. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. especially Psmith. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. It doesn't help my . when Psmith was bowled. But. and he was convinced that. if they could knock Bruce off. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. his slows playing havoc with the tail. He treated all the bowlers alike. As is usual at this stage of a match. and after him Robinson and the rest. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. but it was a comfort. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. and which he hit into the pavilion. restored to his proper frame of mind. their nervousness had vanished. But Adair and Psmith. as they were crossing over. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. A quarter past six struck. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. Changes of bowling had been tried. had never been easy. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. having another knock.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. Adair declared the innings closed. all but a dozen runs. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. The time was twenty-five past five. two runs later. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. was getting too dangerous. As Mike reached the pavilion. with an hour all but five minutes to go. Adair bowled him. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. So Drummond and Rigby. which was Psmith's. And they had hit. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. They were playing all the good balls.

The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. diving to the right. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. Adair's a jolly good sort. and five wickets were down. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. Adair will have left. The batsman. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. and it'll make him happy for weeks. There were twenty-five minutes to go. "I feel like a beastly renegade." "Yes. and the tail. I'm glad we won." said Psmith. he's satisfied. As a matter of fact. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. collapsed uncompromisingly. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. That's what Adair was so keen on." said Mike. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. and chucked it up. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. I shall have left. Wrykyn will swamp them." "He bowled awfully well. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. Sedleigh was on top again. After that the thing was a walk-over. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. the great thing. "I say. Incidentally. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game. hitting out. discussing things in general and the game in particular. Five minutes before.leg-breaks a bit. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn. was a shade too soon." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. "Still." "I suppose they will. playing against Wrykyn. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. "he was going about in a sort of trance." "When I last saw Comrade Adair. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. got to it as he was falling. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. because they won't hit at them. They can get on fixtures with decent . Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. Still. when Adair took the ball from him. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way." said Psmith. is to get the thing started. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. you see. and Mike.

and work up to playing the big schools. So it's all right. Jim Tinsley. performances and research.txt or 7423-8. You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose such as creation of derivative ***** This and all associated files of various formats will be found in: http://www. what? Let us now sally out and see if we can't promote a rag of some sort in this abode of wrath. reflectively." "And. and it would be a pity to waste a somewhat golden opportunity. besides. They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks. apply to copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark. unless you receive specific permission. by Produced by Suzanne L. *** START: FULL LICENSE *** THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free distribution of electronic works. Wodehouse *** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE *** ***** This file should be named 7423-8. If you do not charge anything for copies of this eBook. Shall we stagger?" They staggered. Special rules. Redistribution is subject to the trademark license. "in an emergency they can always get Comrade Downing to bowl for them. and may not be used if you charge for the eBooks. reports. by using or distributing this work . Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no one owns a United States copyright in these works. You've got to start somehow. G. so the Foundation (and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without permission and without paying copyright royalties. With thanks to Amherst College Library. Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions will be renamed. complying with the rules is very easy. especially commercial redistribution. you see. Shell.gutenberg.clubs. Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike. Comrade Outwood has gone over to dinner at the School House. Project Gutenberg is a registered trademark." said Psmith. set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license.

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